Thousands of students were out early to attend St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Kingston’s University District on Sunday. A street party held in the area has become an annual event.
The majority of party-goers had a good time and also obeyed Kingston’s new nuisance bylaw, which allows Kingston police to fine the hosts or participants of a large party causing public disturbance.
The nuisance bylaw, enacted March 20 of last year, just three days after St. Patrick Day, can be laid against anyone hosting or participating in a party deemed a nuisance, obstructing police, using a closed highway and not listening to warnings provided by police.
Many of the students who were partying in the Queen’s University area on Sunday say the new regulation is unfair.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the students out here because everyone is just trying to have fun — everyone is in their youth,” one student said.
Previously, if issued bylaw fines, students were able to pay online, by mail or by phone. But now, if ticketed under the nuisance bylaw, students must appear in a Kingston court in front of a Justice of the Peace, no matter what city they are from, and must also pay the fine in person.
But is the message about the new bylaw getting through to Kingston’s student population?
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Many students approached by Global News had no idea about the bylaw. And the small number of students who are aware of the rule said it has taken away their fun.
“I think that students are in enough stress already and by bringing in somebody, having to go to court, it just makes everything more stressful,” one Queen’s student said.
Although the bylaw is an attempt to control wild behaviour by making offenders more accountable for their actions, of the more than 2,000 party-goers gathered around Aberdeen Street on Sunday, less than 10 were ticketed under the bylaw.
But the nuisance bylaw isn’t the only way Kingston police were trying to quell potential rowdy behaviour. The University District Safety Initiative was put in place all weekend — an initiative that requires that all those ticketed or fined go to court in person in order to pay.
“Walking around with an open container of alcohol would obviously lead to a summons to appear in court,” said Const. Ash Gutheinz with the Kingston police. “Individuals caught on St. Patrick’s Day weekend — as well as homecoming and other occasions like that — are being held responsible.”
Police closed Aberdeen Street between Earl and Johnson streets as students flooded onto the thoroughfare.
“We are working just to keep everybody contained, safe and away from moving traffic,” Gutheinz said.
In recent years, students have partied on rooftops. Several students were injured last year during the St. Patrick’s celebrations when a garage roof collapsed under the weight of the students on top of it. This year, police tried to crack down on rooftop partying.
“We have mobile patrols out in effect as well as a large contingent of officers on foot,” Gutheinz said.