The street parties in Kingston’s University District continued Thursday evening and into Friday morning, with approximately 3,000 to 4,000 people at various large gatherings in the area.
According to Kingston bylaw, officers attended two separate events in the Queen’s University area, both counting more than 100 people.
Bylaw says it issued four court summons under the Reopening Ontario Act for hosting an outdoor gathering over 100 people on Johnson Street.
The maximum penalty for these infractions is $100,000.
Another of these Reopening Ontario Act charges is apparently pending for a second gathering over 100 people, this time on University Avenue. Bylaw did not give any information on this gathering, saying the investigation was ongoing.
Kingston police also attended the parties but have yet to give details about charges laid.
Friday, Mayor Bryan Paterson tweeted out a message to incoming students, who have been officially moving into the district since Tuesday.
Paterson started the statement by welcoming the newcomers, but his message ended with a warning.
“We hope that while you’re here you feel at home, and also treat Kingston as your home,” he said.
“That means enjoying your time here, but also being responsible and caring citizens, abiding by city bylaws and the public health rules and restrictions that are currently in place.”
Paterson went on to say that for those who disregard those rules, Kingston police and bylaw officers will be at the ready to penalize them under appropriate legislation.
This comes just a day after Paterson issued an emergency order to close the Gord Downie Pier for more than two weeks, a direct response to student gatherings in the University District.
In a press conference Friday, associate medical officer of health Dr. Hugh Guan said gatherings like those taking place in the University District are higher risk events then sanctioned larger gatherings.
“These street parties are people who are very, very close to each other, which is different than in other settings, which again, increases the chance of COVID transmission,” he said.
Guan says the health unit is bracing for higher case counts, and hopes that these events do not lead to outbreaks, like those seen in the past linked to the university.
Thursday, Queen’s principal Patrick Deane called the parties “unacceptable.”
“The university is appalled by these student parties. At the best of time they’re problematic for this community, but in still ‘step 3’ of pandemic management, they are irresponsible,” Deane said.
Deane said the university would continue to work with local authorities this year to identify students charges municipally and see if their actions fall under actions punishable under the student code of conduct.
— with files from Global News’ Ladna Mohamed.