Police arrest 9, issue 11 ‘nuisance party’ offences during homecoming weekend in Hamilton

A photo posted on social media in October of 2021 from what Hamilton Police called an 'unsanctioned homecoming' event in the city's Westdale area. Twitter

The Hamilton Police supervisor tasked with monitoring multiple unsanctioned homecoming gatherings last weekend is characterizing events as “better” relative to a 2021 gathering that spurred numerous complaints and arrests.

Supt. David Hennick says the “tone” of a series of unsanctioned street parties in the Westdale and Ainslie Woods neighbourhoods was “different” in contrast to past reported transgressions which led to multiple offences and nearby residents complaining about their safety.

In the end, Hennick said about 6,000 individuals gathered in the Dalewood Avenue area in all, with the peak between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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“I think maybe the students were looking for a new place to gather that wasn’t under the police scrutiny,” Hennick told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today.

“In the end, they returned back to Dalewood Avenue, so really started to gather around 10 a.m.”

Police say the “unsanctioned street gatherings” resulted in the mobilization of several police officers, Hamilton Fire Department members, Hamilton Paramedics, by-law officers, parking enforcement officers and constables from McMaster University Security.

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About 60 calls for service were made on the weekend with nine arrests. Sixteen by-law charges and provincial offence notices were issued, including 11 tickets issued under the Nuisance Party By-law recently approved by city council.

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The zero-tolerance bylaw, which cracks down on parties in the university district, states that fines for a first offence could be $500 all the way up to $10,000, depending on the severity of what is occurring. It mainly targets the individuals hosting, sponsoring or promoting the unsanctioned parties, and typically would not apply to attendees.

Public drunkenness and urination, property damage, excessive noise, obstructing traffic and illegal open burning and illegal use of fireworks are among the activities used to define a nuisance party within the city’s law.

Hennick says “positive engagement with youth” by police, university officials and the city prior to the event proactively mitigated the inevitable gatherings.

He says many of the “big social media sites” targeting attendees warned those coming out not to bring open alcohol and to expect police in numbers.

“And that’s what we saw,” Hennick said.

“Also, they were … telling those in attendance to be respectful towards police, and we saw that as well.”

Read more: Hamilton police respond to multiple ‘nuisance’ parties around university

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Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson, whose constituents are largely affected by the parties, characterized the weekend as “an improvement from last year,” but still not acceptable since multiple police and fire department units had to be deployed around the events.

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Wilson told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton that a “tremendous amount of resources” had to be deployed to the sites and suggests homeowners in the area are tired of their neighbourhoods being used as an “extension of a frat party.”

“I think they were pleased that the presence was there this year and it was very well coordinated by police, but I think we have to have an adult conversation,” Wilson said.

“These are adults. These are our students who are in their adult years and they’re in a place of privilege in post-secondary education. … The question becomes, are they acting like adults?”

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