Over the next couple of weeks, anyone in the McMaster University area throwing, hosting or even attending a large, unsanctioned party could be in for a huge fine
The City of Hamilton has once again enacted its nuisance party bylaw, which it says is intended to curtail large unsanctioned gatherings near McMaster University.
Back in October of 2021, some 5,000 people crowded the Ainslie Wood area near McMaster University, during the first McMaster Marauders football game of the year.
A first-year student saw her car smashed and flipped over. People were reported to have entered the backyards of people living in the neighbourhood, ripped out street signs and threw alcohol bottles at each other.
A city staff report said it cost the Hamilton Paramedic Service $19,605.76 to respond to the event. The city also spent $1,731.37 cleaning out the street, and replacing traffic signs.
In a statement on its website, McMaster University said it "has not hosted a sanctioned "Homecoming" since 2019. Even though there are no Homecoming events at the university, Hamilton could still be the focus for some street party events which, in the past, have been organized and promoted by people with no connection to the university."
The city says the 2023 bylaw will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 1. It took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday.
According to the city, large unsanctioned parties that have historically occurred during fall usually lead to "unsafe and disruptive behaviour."
The city says responding to these events "puts strain on the City of Hamilton and its services including police, fire, paramedics, municipal law enforcement and public works departments."
Hamilton city council passed the nuisance party bylaw last September, allowing police and bylaw enforcement to crack down on out-of-control parties and hand out harsher penalties.
Charges, penalties and remedial costs
The city says an individual charged under the nuisance party bylaw may be required to appear before a justice of the peace at the Ontario Court of Justice. A conviction by the court may result in a fine, probation, or other orders.
If charged, an individual host, property owner, or attendee can face up to $10,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for any subsequent offence related to a nuisance party, the city says.
In addition to fines or penalties, people who conduct or host nuisance parties may be liable for remedial costs for fees from first responders, and/or municipal law enforcement officers and the City of Hamilton for attending the scene. These costs may be recovered by action or by adding the costs to the tax roll and collected in the same manner as property taxes, the city says.
Residents can report a nuisance party or noise infraction to the city's Licensing & Bylaw Services Division at 905-546-2782.