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Kingston Police lay 104 charges due to ‘high-risk nuisance behaviour’

Young people gathered at Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier prior to both spaces being closed to the public by the City of Kingston. Photo by Samantha Butler-Hassan

In working collaboratively with the City of Kingston, KFL&A Public Health, and Queen’s University to address high-risk nuisance behaviour, Kingston Police have responded to over 300 noise complaints and issued over 100 charges in the past two weeks.

Kingston Police are addressing this behaviour through a tiered response strategy, and are reporting increased calls to the University District. Police, the City, Public Health, and Queen’s had previously announced changes made to the Nuisance Party and Noise Bylaw due to the increased risks posed by nuisance behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, Breakwater Park and Gord Edgar Downie Pier have been entirely closed to the public after increased use of the spaces by large groups of young people. Additionally, a Queen’s University professor has spoken out publicly regarding the behaviour being exhibited by the new and returning students in Kingston, and Queen’s has responded to those concerns in a statement.

According to information released by Kingston Police on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, this collaborative effort through “proactive and community enforcement,” has resulted in the following calls for service and associated charges since Friday, Aug. 28:

  • Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police have responded to 307 noise complaints, 255 of which were in the University District
  • 69 Administrative Monetary Penalties have been issued by Bylaw Enforcement and Kingston Police for offences including noise violations, nuisance parties, and failure to comply with an emergency order
  • 11 Highway Traffic Act charges have been laid
  • 22 Liquor Licence Act charges have been laid
  • 2 criminal charges of theft and mischief were filed

Kingston Police also indicated that Bylaw Enforcement officers, supported by Kingston Police, have been responding in a primary enforcement role across the community, with police assisting and responding to increased calls for service in the University District. Additionally, Kingston Police have deployed special constables to work alongside Kingston Police officers and assist in “bolstering the overall complement assigned to the University District detail.”

“Additional resources have been allocated for enhanced enforcement to deter high-risk behaviours, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely said in a statement. “We all need to do our part to keep our community safe.”

Police said that enforcement partners are committed to addressing high-risk nuisance behaviours in a “timely and effective fashion,” and are continuously assessing staffing needs for patrols. But it isn’t just the University District that is concerning – these enforcement partners are addressing any high-risk, unsanctioned gatherings across the City, according to Kingston Police.

“High-risk nuisance violations can, and do continue to happen across the City,” said Paige Agnew, Commissioner of Community Services for the City of Kingston. “The best way to keep Kingston safe is to establish clear rules and ensure consistent communication with all residents. It’s a community effort.”

Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, echoed these sentiments, reiterating the same points he has been trying to drive home in the Kingston community since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the area.

“Enforcement is an integral component of preventing the spread of COVID-19, including education and creating the community standard of physical distancing, wearing a face covering when you can’t physically distance, good hand hygiene, staying home when you are sick, getting tested, and maintaining a small social circle,” he said. “Together we can limit the spread of this virus.”

And this concerted effort by the aforementioned enforcement partners isn’t letting up any time soon, according to Patrick Deane, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Queen’s University.

“We will be working closely with our community partners – KFL&A Public Health, the City of Kingston, and the Kingston Police – to continue to deliver strong and consistent safety messages to students over the coming days and weeks,” Deane said.

Kingston Police reminds the Kingston community that the following measures are currently in effect:

  • Administrative monetary penalties can now be issued for certain bylaw infractions.
  • Residents can also be charged under the Provincial Offences Act and other pertinent legislation, which may still result in a Part One Court Summons for Nuisance Party Bylaw infractions.
  • Residents are required to follow social distancing while in City parks. Failure to comply with this emergency order is enforceable.
  • Effective Sept. 5 2020, the beach portion of Breakwater Park and the Gord Edgar Downie Pier is closed to the public. Residents can still access the waterfront path.
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