The City of Kingston will be closing Gord Edgar Downie Pier amid a number of large gatherings in the city’s University District.
This is the third time since the pandemic began that the city has closed the locations to try to prevent large gatherings.
In a news release this morning, the city issued an emergency order to officially close and fence off the pier and beach for 18 days starting at 4 pm today.
Additionally, they plan to be “taking the measure under the recommendation of Kingston Police and KFL&A Public health to protect the community.”
“The pandemic is not yet behind us,” Paterson says.
“We know that the pier and beach area in Breakwater Park are extremely popular, and over the last few days we have seen large crowds that far exceed the current provincial limits on outdoor gatherings… Unfortunately, the recent crowding on streets in the University District demonstrates the necessity of taking this measure today,” wrote Mayor Bryan Paterson.
Now, anyone caught using the area, even alone, will be subject to fines.
During the emergency closure period, residents who attempt to access the pier or park will be subject to a $2,000 fine under the City’s Administrative Monetary Penalties.
During this time bylaw officers and Kingston Police will reportedly be monitoring the other city parks closely.
In response to the news, a number of Kingston residents voiced their displeasure on social media, with many directing it at Queen’s students for the gatherings, but others questioning the city’s decision as a whole.
“This is absolutely spineless I am disgusted with the city council,” one user posted.
“It was a heatwave. That pier has been dead all season which is why I actually walked on it for the first time since moving here 3 years ago. Talk about overkill,” said another.
Still, even before the closure, many community members have called for Queen’s University to play a role in discouraging the large gatherings that have ramped up in town over the last two weeks.
Queen’s, in a letter sent to students this afternoon and addressed from Patrick Deane, acknowledged the issue of the large gatherings, and said they support the City and Police as they work to address the “illegal activities”.
The email says the best way to deal with the violations is by discussing the problem with students.
“This is a flagrant disregard for our public health and for the law of our province,” the email states.
“While consequences for this behaviour will be imposed, we acknowledge the best way to put a stop to this recklessness is to band together and speak directly to those individuals who are jeopardizing our academic year.”
The email does not specify what consequences for students who violate restrictions may entail.