Hamilton Planning Committee moves forward with nuisance party bylaw – Hamilton

A harmful party rule is set to become a reality in Hamilton after councilors at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday voted to go ahead with suggestions made in a staff report.

District 1 Com. Maureen Wilson has led the way in the initiative over the past year, largely in response to an unauthorized McMaster University homecoming rally last fall and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. – in both the Dalewood and Westwood areas in 2021.

Safety and cost recovery were key issues raised by by-law departments amid reports of excessive drinking, high noise levels and blockages to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

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The proposed nuisance party by-law will give additional enforcement tools to municipal and police officers responsible for unauthorized gatherings, allowing them to disperse harmful parties and minimize the negative behavior associated with them.

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City staff say the ‘fake homecoming’ street party in October resulted in extensive property damage as well as a buildup of trash costing the city $1,731.37 in street cleanups.

Additionally, Hamilton paramedics said they incurred approximately $19,600 in labor and response costs during the Oct. 2 incident.

City departments say proactive measures for the unauthorized St. Patrick’s Day rally on March 19 cost $243,944.

“I am absolutely amazed that an unauthorized nuisance party like this could cost the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton $243,000,” said Hamilton West/Central Mountain Coun. Jean-Paul Dak said during Tuesday’s committee meeting.

« I am also very surprised that the institutions responsible do not share any of these costs. »

Licensing and Regulations Services Senior Project Manager Ben Spycha told advisers the new regulations outline 11 « nuisance characteristics » that form the threshold for defining an unauthorized party, including disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and littering on public or private property.

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“A nuisance party is declared by the Chief of Police or his delegate,” Spycha said.

“The declaration can only be made when the threshold of four characteristics of a harmful party (is met) as stated in the definitions of the regulations,” Spycha said.

According to Spycha, the fines suggested in the Hamilton staff report are similar to recent nuisance by-law initiatives undertaken by other Ontario municipalities that have seen similar disruptive gatherings.

Read more:

5 more charged in connection with ‘unauthorized’ McMaster homecoming party

Proposed penalties include provincial offense notices and administrative penalties ranging from $300 to $500 for hosting, assisting, permitting, defacing signs and failing to leave.

« If the Harmful Parties Rule is passed, changes to the Administrative Penalty Rule will be sought with these suggested fines, as Administrative Penalties are not intended to be punitive, these fines are less than their POA counterparts, » said Spycha.

The package also suggests a “university district safety initiative” establishing “zero tolerance” enforcement zones ahead of a potential unauthorized event, with the overall goal of minimizing negative behavior associated with parties and deterring public nuisance.

Spycha said an example of preparedness would be a possible homecoming rally in which areas around the University District, Westdale and Dalewood could be demarcated as zero tolerance zones ahead of an event.

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“Officers would take a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, which would see charges laid against those who contravene the proposed settlement rather than the traditional graduated enforcement approach that we typically take,” Spycha explained.

However, the regulations cannot declare a party harmful before notice of an unauthorized planned event.

The nuisance party by-law will now need to be approved by the Public Safety Task Force before being presented to City Council for final approval on September 14.

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