Mayor Bryan Paterson said the City of Kingston is receiving a large sum of money from Queen’s University to help pay for extra enforcement costs incurred by the city for parties in the University District this year.
Paterson told The Morning Show on CKWS that the city will be receiving $350,000 from the university to help with things like extra police enforcement for student parties, and COVID-19 messaging.
“I had a few conversations with Queen’s principal Patrick Deane and I think what we just recognize that this is an unusual year,” Paterson said.
In the past, Queen’s University has given the city in the $100,000 range to help with extra costs of enforcement for events like homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day parties, which, in the past, have devolved into massive and unruly street parties.
In an interview Thursday, Deane noted that the university understood this year was unlike any other, and that the school needed to offer more support.
“It’s been very clear we needed to work closely with them for the good of this community and the broader community. And so over the last several weeks, we’ve recognized there’s a certain strain on city resources as a result of the students coming back,” Deane said.
Paterson said the extra money is appreciated as costs to the city for enforcement ramped up over the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s quite, quite a bit more than what has been given in the past. And so that pool of funds will certainly be used to help offset some of the cost of enforcement, having more police officers on the ground,” Paterson said.
The news of the added cash comes the same morning as a revised homecoming schedule begins for Queen’s University, with both in-person and virtual events.
Although the actual events are structured and approved by KFL&A Public Health, the city is bracing for street parties like those seen in September to once again take place.
Paterson asked students to be wary and respectful of current public health guidelines to keep their gatherings small over the next four days.
“The pandemic isn’t over, and so there are still additional risks that come from large gatherings,” he said.
“For those that, unfortunately, if they choose to disobey those rules that apply to everybody in the community, then police and bylaw will be on the ground to issue fines and penalties.”
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The mayor noted that the extra funds from the city won’t just go to police and bylaw, but will also help pay for the added COVID-19 messaging and strategies taken up by the city this year.
For example, the city barricaded the Gord Downie Pier twice this year due to what Paterson called overcrowding, mostly by nearby Queen’s students.
The University District also saw a large uptick in street parties in late August and September of this year, which prompted a new emergency order to deal with what Paterson dubbed “aggravated nuisance parties.”
This emergency order allowed the city to deploy added enforcement in the Queen’s University District, and to lay beefed up fines for those charged at an aggravated nuisance party.
“There’s additional cost, not just enforcement, but also communications, with the students understanding what those bylaws are and then all the other city services that have been affected in the midst of COVID as well,” he said.
Deane noted that the university continues to work with local city services, and are informed when its students breach COVID-19 regulations.
Deane said those who are found also in breach of the school’s code on conduct will go through an internal disciplinary process as well.
“The students behavior, if it is careless or thoughtless, can have very serious ramifications for the community, not only for themselves as individuals, but for the broader community. It’s a draw on resources, ambulances, police services and so on at a time when those services are needed elsewhere,” he said.
He said consequences range from remedial restorative action to expulsion.
Deane noted that despite the school’s high rate of vaccination, there is still an expectation that students follow public health guidelines.
“An important message we’ve tried to send to the students is that being fully vaccinated is not a license in any way to breach the the public health guidelines and rules.”