When does a street party cross the line from being fun to a nuisance? On September 17 an estimated 400 Brock University students were celebrating Homecoming on Winterberry Boulevard, and their party drew complaints from local residents. Thorold and St. Catharines governments were urged to create bylaws to enforce against these street parties. This is not the first time residents of the two cities have complained about student parties.
This past March on Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, there was another party on Jacobson Avenue which lead Brock University to condemn the actions of students. Both events had heightened police presence as complaints in the past have caused stricter enforcement of noise bylaws. Dates like Saint Patrick’s Day and Homecoming Weekend are anticipated by police well in advance in order to be prepared. However it is proving to be increasingly difficult to prevent street parties from reaching this level that has been deemed unacceptable by Brock and Thorold residents. Due to the diasporic nature of Brock students it makes it impossible for police to cover every potential party area. Which can contribute to why these parties get so out of hand in the first place. One Thorold resident recounted leaving to watch a football game on Sept 17. When they left their home nothing was amiss in the Thorold neighbourhood, but by the time they returned there were reportedly 400 students in the street, singing, chanting and throwing beer bottles.
On September 18, Brock officials met with the mayor of Thorold and the Niagara Regional Police to discuss homeowners’ unhappiness. A video of the party circulated quickly, garnering over 100,000 views in under 24 hours. Brock President Gervan Fearon released a statement indicating that he and other Brock officials would be reviewing the Student Code of Conduct, as well as following up in other ways, such as educating students on the impact they can have on the community and what it means to be a responsible citizen. The city of Thorold itself stated it will now be taking a zero tolerance approach to strictly enforce the relevant bylaws.
All of these solutions are interesting and it seems as though each member at the meeting has a different approach to solving the issue. One student from Brock had a new idea: Matthew Milliere has created an app named TheSmartBar. His proposed solution to these massive street parties taking place is reinvigorating the St. Catharines bar scene. Milliere’s app takes only the most basic information about a person down and asks them to identify their city. Afterwards the app will display a list of bars in that city in which a student can select to display certain statistics about. If there’s a deal going on, the division of gender at the bar, and a few others. The bars are displayed in order of most attended to least busy on a given day. This way users can choose whether they want to be with the rest of the students, or just have a quiet drink for the night. The app is free to download.
While impossible to determine which of these solutions to Brock’s street party problem will yield the best results for the community, it seems as though each majority group involved with the situation has a unique plan to deal with it. The community came together on something that can negatively impact both the residents who don’t want to be around these massive student street parties and the students themselves.