Preparations underway in Kingston, Ont. ahead of St. Patrick’s Day parties

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Preparations underway in Kingston, Ont., ahead of St. Patrick’s Day parties
WATCH: Kingston Police and the municipality are busy preparing as St. Patrick's Day closes in, with students once again set to hit the streets to party – Mar 14, 2023

St. Patrick’s Day is this Friday and there are indications the annual parties that happen in the city’s university district could spill into Saturday as well.

Police and bylaw enforcement plan to be out in force, bracing for trouble.

The streets around Queen’s University were quiet on a snowy Tuesday, the calm before the proverbial storm.

Read more: Kingston Ont., police officers seeking suspects following incidents at St. Patrick’s Day parties

Every year, students flood into the streets around St. Patrick’s Day for fun, parties and general revelry.

“We’re hosting a party, so, trying keep it safe and nice for everyone and a little fun too, so, yeah,” said Queen’s University engineering student Brett McGonigal of his weekend plans.

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While many of the students who party in the university district for St. Patrick’s Day are from Queen’s University or St. Lawrence College, many others make the journey from elsewhere to partake.

While having fun isn’t illegal, some of the behaviours and incidents in past years associated with street partying in the Queen’s area have caused some tension.

Last year, according to police, Kingston Police handed out 41 open liquor charges, 18 sound amplification fines and even three fines of a whopping $2,000 for sponsoring or hosting a nuisance party.

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said the hope is that this year, safe fun will conquer destructive behaviour.

“We’re just asking people to do so in a way that’s safe and respectful to the neighbours in surrounding neighbourhoods,”

As they did last year, Kingston Police outreach workers were out in the university district Tuesday, talking to students and handing out papers that detail the costs associated with pushing the envelope too far during the street parties.

While partying at Queen’s has been going on for decades, it has seemingly intensified in recent years when it comes to the cost to police.

Read more: More fines and charges released from Kingston St. Patrick’s Day weekend parties

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Despite the university providing some funds to help offset it, the police still had a large budget deficit last year, largely due to overtime for law enforcement during times of heavy street partying.

Mayor Paterson said a long-term solution involves finding a way to balance partying with safe, respectful behaviour.

“If we minimize the unsafe, disrespectful behaviours, then you don’t need that same police response,” Paterson said.

Despite the negative light shed on students in the past, McGonigal says that it’s not all of them who are out to cause trouble.

“There’s a few students in general that just get out of hand that kind of make a bad picture for all of us, as you know, so, honestly I think most people are reasonable in trying to keep everything in check,” McGonigal said.

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