The City of Kingston has issued a new emergency order meant to tamp down the large street parties recently seen in the Queen’s University District.
Under the new order, which comes into effect Friday at 4 p.m., anyone found attending a nuisance party will be fined $2,000, rather than the previous $500 fine.
The order also allows city officials to share names of those who receive any type of penalty — such as under the Reopening Ontario Act, emergency order bylaws or the nuisance party bylaw — including with the media.
“It is our hope that increasing penalties and publicly identifying individuals who choose to put the community at risk during a deadly pandemic will serve as a deterrent to illegal social gatherings,” says Kingston Chief of Police Antje McNeely.
The order will also allow increased enforcement in the city and give officers the ability to issue fines immediately after a nuisance party is declared.
This comes on the heels of weeks of street parties in the University District, with some gatherings reaching 5,000 attendees.
On Thursday, KFL&A Public Health said it had detected increased COVID-19 transmission among the 18-29 population, specifically in the downtown core, and that some of these cases were contracted at large gatherings.
The health unit said the highly contagious Delta variant was driving cases locally.
As of Thursday, the region has 32 active cases. KFL&A has not seen this many active cases since May.
The majority of cases seen between Sept. 1, when Queen’s move-in began, and Friday were found in the 18-29 crowd. Fourteen of the region’s 25 cases were found in that age group.
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“The large street parties that have been occurring in the University District are appalling and downright dangerous in the midst of a pandemic,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said upon issuing the new order.
“Our community is fed up with this disrespectful behaviour that is putting everyone at risk.”
In a tweet sent out around 4 p.m. Friday, Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane voiced his support for the city.
“We support the efforts of our partners and the need to abide by public health regulations. Keeping our community safe is and always will be our priority,” he said.