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It's Homecoming weekend: Who's picking up the tab?

A year after another expensive and rowdy party weekend, talks are still ongoing between the U of G and local police on a funding arrangement to pay some policing costs
Thousands of students gathered on Chancellor's Way for what would be Homecoming Weekend on Saturday. Police presence was increased and several tickets were issued on site.

Homecoming weekend is only a couple days away.

But after yet another unsanctioned gathering near the University of Guelph campus last fall, and another party likely to form this weekend, questions remain on how the bill for the policing costs will be split.

A year ago, dubbing the weekend 'It's Not A Homecoming' didn't exactly deter students from gathering on Chancellor's Way. About 2,500 people gathered on the street just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25 of last year, and remained until about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., police said there were 310 calls for service, which was about a 50 per cent increase from the typical Saturday.

Almost 50 charges were laid, seven people were sent to hospital, a non-student was arrested for shooting fireworks into the crowd and a vehicle was damaged.

The day cost police a total of around $36,000, with $30,000 of it to cover the additional resources needed for the unsanctioned gathering.

In response, the police services board passed a pair of motions.

One was to request that the university reimburse the service for $65,000, which would cover "impacts both on and off campus to ensure the safety of students and citizens during Project Safe Semester and Homecoming and other unsanctioned gatherings connected to the University of Guelph" in 2021.

They also passed a motion to look into a funding arrangement with the university, and have a vote by this month.

While that vote has not yet taken place, and the reimbursement of last year's costs look to be part of ongoing discussions between police and the university, Chief Gord Cobey is expected to provide an update during October's police board meeting, said police spokesperson Scott Tracey.

In the meantime, both police and the university are out with messages ahead of the weekend.

U of G is encouraging students to celebrate safely, urging them to be respectful of their neighbours and be aware large parties can create unsafe environments.

Irene Thompson, the interim vice-provost of student affairs, said there is a no-guest policy on campus residences this weekend, and access is only permitted to those living in said buildings.

In addition, both the Central Student Association and Graduate Student Association will offer a late-night bus service to students, and students are also encouraged to use the Safe Gryphon app.

On the gridiron, the Guelph Gryphons will look to get back in the win column Saturday for their Homecoming game. They host the Queen's Gaels at 1 p.m.

Police said they will deploy additional resources Saturday and are calling on everyone to act as responsible citizens.

"The City of Guelph’s nuisance party bylaw addresses parties that are or could become a public nuisance due to unreasonable noise, loud music, shouting, littering, damage or destruction or property, public drunkenness or disorderly conduct or several other factors," police said in a news release.

"The bylaw makes it illegal to host, attend, permit, continue or refuse to leave a nuisance."

Police are also encouraging the public to call them with any reports of nuisance parties, noise complaints, open alcohol or any ongoing issues needing police assistance.

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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a graduate of Canadore College in North Bay whose career has taken him through a number of spots across Ontario. He spent nearly a decade in the radio news industry in North Bay, Timmins and Waterloo Region
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