Kingston Police and Bylaw Enforcement warn partiers ahead of Homecoming weekend

Hundreds gathered for an impromptu street party on University Avenue on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. Photo by Cris Vilela.

As Homecoming weekend approaches, the City of Kingston’s Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police are warning partiers: reckless and high-risk nuisance behaviour can have long-term impacts. According to the City, strengthened enforcement measures mean that a fine or charge received during the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) could be retained as a permanent police record.

“The past few weeks have demonstrated an unacceptable escalation of disruptive and aggressive behaviour,” said Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely. “We want people to understand there are consequences to your actions, whether it be short-term in the form of an arrest and thousands of dollars in fines and penalties, or long-term via a criminal record and the effect on future job prospects or employment. Please respect our community, consider your behaviour, and conduct yourself in a legal and responsible manner.”  

In a media release, the City said the solution is simple: avoid large gatherings where nuisance behaviour is likely.  

 Enforcement partners working together to keep community safe  

Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police have been working closely with other community partners and institutions to prepare for the Homecoming weekend and are also responding to troubling reports of high-risk party plans for the weekend of Oct. 23 that could draw partiers from outside of Kingston, according to the release. To address this, the UDSI has been extended through Oct. 25, emergency services have been meeting to plan for various circumstances, and enforcement measures are in place in efforts to keep everyone in the community safe, the City said. 

“The pandemic is not yet behind us and the risks at large gatherings remains real. I trust most of you will celebrate Homecoming responsibly. However, for those who disregard the laws that everyone in our community is expected to abide by, police and bylaw will not hesitate to issue fines and penalties,” said Mayor Paterson. “And if you’re considering coming to Kingston to attend a party and you’re not from here, now is not the time. I suggest you take the time to read through my recent emergency order, the fines and consequences associated with attending a party that violates provincial allowances, and the other measures we have in place to address unsanctioned parties.” 

Mayor Paterson also addressed students in a video, discussing the safety of the community and increased enforcement measures. Watch the full video on YouTube.

City staff in multiple departments, including Kingston Fire and Rescue, Transportation Services and Public Works have been collaborating with community partners in various capacities as part of an ongoing effort to ensure that the impacts of Homecoming weekend are mitigated and that everyone stays safe, according to the release. The City said staff have also been working proactively with community partners by going door to door to inform individuals of current regulations. 

Avoid a fine or charges under applicable legislation 

The University District Safety Initiative is in effect from 12 a.m. on Oct. 14 to 12 p.m. on Oct. 25. Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police will be out in the University District responding to calls and proactively patrolling for large gatherings or nuisance behaviour, according to the release.  

  • Under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) gathering sizes are limited to 25 individuals indoors or 100 individuals outdoors. Violations for hosting or attending a gathering could result in a Part Three Court summons and a fine of up to $10,000.  
  • Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) can be issued for nuisance party infractions. These fines can be issued by and paid through the City directly. Under the UDSI, a fine under the nuisance party bylaw can result in a mandatory court summons.  
  • As of Sept. 10, the AMP for hosting, conducting or sponsoring a nuisance party has been increased to $2,000. 
  • In accordance with the Mayor’s Emergency Order Number 5, any gathering that breaches the ROA gathering limits can be declared an aggravated nuisance party. Individual identities may now be disclosed for any individuals fined for having hosted, sponsored or attended an aggravated nuisance party. 
  • Students fined under the UDSI may also face non-academic sanctions through their post-secondary institutions, depending on rules or policies in place.  

“We understand that many individuals are excited to meet up with friends this Homecoming weekend, but don’t let that lead to a fine that can permanently jeopardize your career prospects,” said Kyle Compeau, Manager of Licensing and Enforcement for the City. “Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police will be prepared to respond to any gatherings that cross the line into nuisance behaviour. Keep your name clear and avoid these gatherings.”  

Working together as part of the Kingston community 

Keeping the community safe is a collective effort and, as part of the community, students are encouraged to think about the role they can play, the City said.  

Large gatherings and associated high-risk behaviours put Kingston’s emergency services under immense pressure. The City said that every preventable call for Kingston Fire and Rescue, paramedics or the police could mean a delayed response for a real emergency across the city. According to the release, these sorts of gatherings have also put increased stress on hospitals, which are often required to respond to otherwise preventable injuries.  

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