Hamilton’s Planning Committee Moves On With Nuisance Party Bylaws – Hamilton

Hamilton's Planning Committee Moves On With Nuisance Party Bylaws - Hamilton

A nuisance party ordinance is one step closer to reality in Hamilton after councilors voted in a planning committee meeting Tuesday to move forward with suggestions put forward in a staff report.

Section 1 Kon. Maureen Wilson has spearheaded the initiative for the past year, largely in response to an unsanctioned McMaster University homecoming gathering last fall and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration — both in the Dalewood and Westwood areas in 2021.

Safety and cost recovery were primary issues raised by municipal services, amid reports of excessive alcohol consumption, high noise levels, and pedestrian and vehicle blockages.

The proposed Nuisance Parties Ordinance gives municipal and police officers engaged in unauthorized gatherings additional enforcement tools, allowing them to disperse nuisance parties and minimize the associated negative behavior.

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City officials say the October “fake homecoming” street party resulted in significant property damage and a buildup of trash, costing the city $1,731.37 in street cleaning.

In addition, Hamilton’s paramedics said they incurred costs in the region of $19,600 for labor and response during the Oct. 2 incident.

Municipal authorities say proactive measures for the unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day gathering on March 19 will cost a total of $243,944.

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

“I am also really surprised that the responsible institutions do not contribute to those costs.”

Ben Spycha, senior project manager for licensing and bylaws, told council members that the new bylaws outline 11 “nuisance features” that set the barrier to defining an unsanctioned party, including disorderly conduct, public intoxication and depositing garbage on public lands. or private property.

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“A nuisance party is declared by the chief of police or their authorized representative,” Spycha said.

“The declaration can only be made when the threshold of four characteristics of a nuisance party (is met) as set out in the definitions of the articles of association,” Spycha said.

The proposed fines in the Hamilton staff report are similar to recent nuisance statute initiatives taken by other Ontario municipalities that have seen similar disruptive meetings, Spycha said.

The proposed penalties include provincial infraction notices and administrative (POA) penalties ranging from more than $300 to $500 for hosting, attending, permitting, insulting signs, and failing to leave.

“If the nuisance party ordinance is passed, changes to the administrative sanctions ordinance will be sought with these proposed fines, as administrative sanctions are not intended to be punitive, these fines are lower than their POA counterparts,” said Spycha .

The package also suggests a “university neighborhood safety initiative” establishing “zero tolerance” enforcement areas ahead of a potentially unsanctioned event, with the overall goal of minimizing negative behavior associated with parties and deterring public nuisances.

Spycha said an example of preparation would be a possible homecoming, where areas around the university district, Westdale and Dalewood, could be marked as zero-tolerance zones ahead of an event.

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“Officials would take a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, bringing charges against those who violate the proposed regulation instead of the traditional progressive enforcement approach we usually take,” Spycha explained.

However, the statutes cannot report a nuisance party before reporting an expected unsanctioned event.

The nuisance party ordinance must now be approved by the Public Safety Working Group before being taken to City Council for final approval on Sept. 14.

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