In an attempt to tackle the large, unsanctioned street parties that take place near campus during events like Homecoming and this past St. Patrick’s Day, Queen’s University and the City of Kingston have partnered up.
The result is a project called the University District Safety Initiative.
For Mayor Bryan Paterson, the tipping point was St. Patrick’s Day of this year, when a garage roof with people on it collapsed. At that point, he says, he became fearful for peoples’ safety.
“It was only a matter of time before somebody was seriously injured or killed,” Paterson said.
Under the guidelines of the University District Safety Initiative, anyone at the street parties charged under the Liquor License Act, the noise bylaw or the city’s new nuisance parties bylaw will not only have to pay a fine but will also be summoned to appear in court.
Queen’s University principal Daniel Woolf says the summons adds a layer of accountability.
“You do not have the option of saying, ‘Well, I live in Vancouver; I’m sorry I’m just going to pay it on-line,'” Woolf said. “No, you have to go to court, and sorry if you miss your flight.”
The mayor says this initiative is behaviour-driven, not anti- student.
“This initiative would apply to resident or non-resident, student and non-student,” Woolf said.
Having to appear in court means a charged individual’s name will appear in the court docket, allowing the university to track any involved students.
Principal Woolf says that will allow them to identify people with possible substance abuse or mental health issues.
It also allows the university to take its own internal disciplinary action, Woolf says, like restitution.
“Having to face the person whose front steps you damaged with beer bottles or whose window you broke, that’s what we call restorative justice,” Woolf said, “and it’s not necessarily an easy thing.”