Every year, Queen’s University hosts Homecoming weekend, an event meant to bring alumni back to celebrate their time at the school, and for current students to celebrate coming back to school.
Also usually every year, these celebrations spill out on University District streets, often bringing with them large and sometimes unruly street parties, resulting in added police enforcement.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Homecoming has been scheduled to be held virtually, with The Tragically Hip’s Gord Sinclair set to play in an online concert.
Despite the change, Kingston police are still warning Homecoming celebrants that officers will be ready to lay fines if provincial COVID-19 guidelines are not followed this weekend.
In September, gathering limits in Ontario were changed to 25 people outside and 10 people inside. Kingston police say anyone in contravention of those guidelines could face severe penalties.
Hosts of a large party could face a minimum $10,000 under the Reopening Ontario Act, whereas anyone attending a large gathering can be issued an $880 fine.
Police say they are also ready to enforce emergency order, noise or nuisance bylaw fines, which range anywhere from $100 to $2,000.
“Kingston Police and its partners are hopeful that members of the public take the increasing number of those infected throughout the province with COVID-19 seriously and do their part in helping to reduce the unnecessary spread of the virus within our community,” police said in a release.
Usually, Kingston police spend thousands of dollars in overtime expenses in order to man the University District parties. This year, there will be no extra spending for overtime hours, but Kingston police have planned for the possibility of extra enforcement over Homecoming weekend.
“Kingston Police has scheduled an additional contingent of officers to work throughout the weekend to ensure frontline patrol can adequately respond to their regular calls for service throughout the city,” the release continued.