Hamilton cracks down on large parties with new by-law, includes $25,000 fine

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Published September 14, 2022 at 1:46 pm

Hamilton cracks down on large parties with new by-law, includes $25,000 fine
The City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Police Service are taking steps to crack down on "unsanctioned social gatherings" and "nuisance parties."

The City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Police Service are taking steps to crack down on “unsanctioned social gatherings” and “nuisance parties.”

The city announced Wednesday that a new by-law has been enacted to address the negative impacts on neighbourhoods associated with large social gatherings.

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Under the by-law, an order can be issued by Hamilton Police to cease and disperse people not residing at a residence or property where the social gathering is occurring.

“We urge all community members to become aware of Hamilton’s new nuisance party bylaw and its potential consequences,” said police chief Frank Bergen. “The by-law can mean large fines for anyone who attends a nuisance party, blocks traffic or roads or damages property.”

“The best way to avoid these fines is not to go.”

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.

According to the by-law, a nuisance party is a gathering of people where any of the following activities occur:

  • public disorderly conduct
  • public drunkenness or public intoxication
  • the unlawful sale or distribution of alcohol or controlled substances;
  • the deposit of refuse on public or private property;
  • damage to or destruction of public or private property
  • obstructing pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic, or obstruction that could interfere with the provision of emergency services;
  • excessive noise, including loud music, shouting
  • unlawful open burning or fireworks;
  • public disturbances, including public brawls or public fights;
  • outdoor public urination or defecation; and
  • use of a roof not intended for such occupancy.

“We encourage everyone in our community to appreciate the importance of being responsible hosts and considerate guests, which means respecting homes and properties in their neighbourhoods,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “Hamilton’s Nuisance Party By-Law fosters a safer community and helps all residents do their part to be good neighbours.”

In addition to the by-law, a University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) has been developed to address “unsafe and disruptive behaviour that often accompanies large gatherings that have historically occurred during the ‘homecoming’ period and St. Patrick’s Day.”

In Oct. 2021, about 5,000 people descended on a street during an unsanctioned homecoming event at the same time as McMaster University’s first home football game of the season.

Glass bottles and cans were launched at officers, and a squad car was damaged, leading to several fines and arrests.

The UDSI encompasses the western section of the Westdale and the Dalewood neighbourhoods. It will be operational from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, 2022, at which time there will be a “zero-tolerance enforcement” to minimize “negative effects of ongoing nuisance party and ensuring those involved are held accountable,” according to police.

The city and police service will undertake a public education campaign “to ensure residents and post-secondary communities are aware of these new responsibilities.”

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