A number of strategies for handling future Homecoming events in Guelph have been highlighted during a meeting Thursday involving Mayor Cam Guthrie and several community organizations and leaders.
The weekend of September 22-24 saw beautiful summer weather and enthusiastic partying from students. Guelph Police and bylaw officers report being overwhelmed with the unprecedented student rowdiness and disregard for the rules over the course of the September 22nd weekend.
A number of photos taken of the downtown and neighbourhoods around the university show streets and private property strewn with garbage.
Representatives from business, the university, hospital and health, emergency services, and the city were on hand.
In a release, the city says more than 500 calls to bylaw and Guelph Police were made during Homecoming. Bylaw received 221 calls for service, compared to 46 during last year’s Homecoming.
“The president (of the university) and I convened this group of leaders because we are committed to working together to address the noise and disruption in our neighborhoods, caused by a small number of people,” said Guthrie. “The e-mails and phone calls I received after Homecoming were some of the most upsetting I have received in my time on Council.”
BELOW: In a discussion with CJOY news reporter, Matt Carty – the Monday after Homecoming weekend – Guthrie had already been planning to meet with community leaders to debrief.
BELOW: Guthrie acknowledges the damage and rowdiness was not just the work of UofG students.
The Joint Operations Team has identified and, in some cases, has already begun implementing strategies for future events. These include:
- Discussions with neighbouring cities and universities in Waterloo, Hamilton, and London that are experiencing similar challenges.
- Pre- and post-event waste management plans will be put in place to deal more effectively with litter, street sweeping, and property standards issues.
- The University is enhancing communications underlining the importance of Gryphon values and longstanding connections with the wider community.
- The City and University will work together to enhance communications related to safety and education.
- Successful existing initiatives such as Safe Semester, pre-visits to properties with previous violations, and the party registration program will be continued and built upon.
“Homecoming is a time of celebration and enjoyment on the University of Guelph campus and in the Guelph community,” said University of Guelph President Franco Vaccarino in a statement last month. “Unfortunately, this weekend there were some situations where U of G students and others behaved inappropriately, with significant negative impact on members of our community. I would like to personally, and on behalf of the University, apologize to any members of the Guelph community who were affected negatively.”
Guthrie also added he’s pleased that, for the first time, the City’s Bylaw Division is pursuing those responsible for organizing and sponsoring large parties. He says the offenders will be invoiced to recover costs for things such as policing, bylaw, waste collection, road closures, and cleanup.