Kingston, Ont., mayor says party crackdown showing early results

A pilot project in Kingston, Ont., in which tickets come with mandatory court appearances already seems to have tamped down Kingston's rowdiest student parties.

New rules require ticket recipients to appear in court instead of paying fines online

Revelers take part in St. Patrick's Day celebrations on Aberdeen Street near Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., in 2016. The city says a new ticketing policy announced in June to curb out-of-control street parties is already making some headway. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

A pilot project in Kingston, Ont., in which tickets come with mandatory court appearances already seems to have tamped down some of the city's rowdiest student parties.

The city has long struggled with street parties, especially during Queen's University move-in week, homecoming, and on St. Patrick's Day.

Now a pilot project in the city's university district — the area bordered by Barrie, King, Collingwood and Johnson streets — is designed to address that issue by changing how the tickets police hand out are handled.

Previously, tickets for offences like public intoxication or blocking a city street could be paid online, by mail, or over the phone.

But under the University District Safety Initiative, those who've received such tickets will have to make an appearance before a justice of the peace instead.

Those who end up being convicted could also face discipline from the university, including formal warnings, community service and the loss of certain campus privileges.

'A signal and a warning'

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said the city started issuing warnings earlier this week, but by the second night they began handing out tickets — and noticed a real difference.

"We quickly saw street parties dissipate. And then the third evening, there was nothing," Paterson told CBC Radio's All In A Day. "It really sent a signal and a warning."

There are lots of ways that you can party and not break any city bylaws.- Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson

He said Kingston police had given out about 115 tickets for a variety of offences in the first few days.

The pilot project was announced earlier this year so that no one would be surprised, Paterson said.

"We didn't want anybody to be hit with this unexpectedly," he said.  "It was actually pretty surprising how quickly word spread."

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson told CBC Radio's All In A Day this week that the University District Safety Initiative seems to have cut down on the number of rowdy parties in the city. (Frédéric Pepin/CBC)

Paterson said the City of Kingston recognizes students are going to have parties, but it wants to stop unsafe behaviour. He also said the city would be open to tweaking the pilot project to ensure it's working smoothly.

"The university experience should include having a good time. And partying can be part of that," Paterson said.

"But there are lots of ways that you can party and not break any city bylaws."