Kingston emergency service providers sound off on street parties

Kingston's health care providers are among those disappointed to witness last weekend's behaviour exhibited by Queen's students and visitors to the University District. 

Now with a second straight weekend of massive street parties expected as Queen's actual homecoming weekend takes place October 28-30, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) has put forward a plea asking students and others to reconsider attending these events. 

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, KHSC said while there are measures in place to support increased patient demand, the large parties that take place several times a year are putting an "extreme strain on an already overburdened health-care system."

While KHSC is prepared to treat injuries from these parties, the frustration and annoyance with students and Queen's itself is clear through their tweets.

Just last weekend they say they treated 15 injuries stemming from Faux Homecoming, many of these patients requiring a level of resource intensive care that is concerning and impacts how quickly other patients are treated. 

KHSC added in their tweets that many emergency department visits that take place are avoidable, and ask people who do choose to attend these events to only utilize the service for the most urgent conditions. 

A joint release from Kingston Police, Kingston Fire and Rescue, and Frontenac Paramedics also condemned the unsanctioned parties. 

The release from Tuesday states that Kingston Emergency Services are "disappointed" with the outcome of the unsanctioned parties, saying approximately 7,000 people were in attendance on Saturday afternoon. 

"It is unacceptable that a student held event, such as this weekend’s unsanctioned gathering, led to serious consequences involving numerous arrests, fines being laid, and serious injuries being sustained," the release reads. 

Kingston's Police Chief Antje McNeely says the practice of holding massive, unsanctioned street parties has become a rivalry of sorts among Universities, in a contest which the surrounding communities are faced with the bulk of repercussions. 

“We continue to see the impact that social media has had on mass gatherings in our communities and the rivalry that has been created between Universities to hold the biggest unsanctioned Faux Homecoming parties and traditional Homecoming events," McNeely said. 

“As we prepare for next weekend’s Homecoming, we will continue to proactively educate and engage with our community in advance, with a continued strategy of zero tolerance for any criminal, provincial and by-law infractions being committed."

Kingston bylaw also stated that the cleanup cost accrued by the city after Saturday's parties was $9,754.99

On October 13, Queen's released a statement outlining the process being taken to help mitigate unsanctioned street parties and the disruption caused within the community.

Those steps haven't made the impact many hoped for, and at this time Queen's has not released further comment - though said they would later this week.

There will be a Queen's football game to go along with this year's celebrations, with the Gaels taking on U of T at 1 PM Saturday. 

Story by Owen Fullerton, YGK News, for the Local Journalism Intitiative