Queen's Homecoming weekend has arrived; how the city and the university have prepared

October 20, 2023

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC Broadcast Journalist, for the Local Journalism Initiative.

As the infamous Queen’s University Homecoming weekend officially kicks off today, The City of Kingston and the university have been hard at work to prepare for both the excitement and commotion the event is sure to bring.

Kingston Police and City Bylaw have announced that they will have an increased presence over the weekend in the University District. This is consistent with previous years even prompting them to bring in support from other municipalities for the event. There will also notably be some unique circumstances while the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) is in effect, extending until Nov. 1 to cover both Homecoming and Halloween weekend. 

The UDSI comes into effect throughout Queen’s Orientation week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day with hopes of reigning in some of the high-risk behaviors that have historically taken place throughout these events. Pieces of the initiative include changes to how people will be charged for committing specific offenses and potential university-related consequences for any student issued a summons while the initiative is in effect.

City Bylaw has also chosen to close Gord Edgar Downie Pier and the park surrounding the pier from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. until Sunday morning, an action also taken during Orientation week due to health and safety concerns.

Breaking any of the various Noise and Nuisance Party Bylaws this weekend can result in fines ranging from $100 to $2000. More information on the initiative, including fines, closures, and more can be found on the City of Kingston website

“Celebrating safely means taking care of yourselves, but also being considerate of the peace and well-being of our neighbours,” says Kyle Compeau, Manager of Enforcement at the City of Kingston. “Let’s ensure this is a fun and safe Homecoming for all.” 

The university and organizations affiliated with the school, including the Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS), have been active in the lead-up to the event with outreach to promote a safe and respectful Homecoming celebration. 

"The university and our community partners have been working together to ensure students understand the safety risks and disruptions to the community that large, unsanctioned street gatherings cause,” states Matthew Evans, Provost and Vice-Principal, in a release from the university. “We know students will get together and socialize, but we strongly encourage everyone to be smart, stay safe, and make choices that do not put themselves and others at risk, and importantly, do not put additional strain on Kingston’s health-care system.”

The university and the AMS are also coordinating supports including alternate event options, food trucks on campus, snacks and water, and more access to supervised recovery sites.

Victoria Mills, Vice President of University Affairs with the AMS, had the following message for students participating;

“As we see an increase in police presence around the University District, we do see some unique bylaws come into play over this period. Just reminded to really brush up on those and to make sure that you're celebrating homecoming in a safe manner with respect to your peers but as well as the community in general. Because when we do that, I think homecoming is a lot more fun for everyone involved. So just to be smart and be safe.” 

Kingston Police and City Bylaw may find themselves with a slightly lighter load as rain is expected throughout the weekend, but the only thing we know for certain is that many pairs of sneakers will be ruined by Sunday.