ANTIGONISH: With a busy homecoming weekend behind them, Antigonish Town Council is planning to meet with university and RCMP for a debrief.
Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher said council and the university acknowledge there is still work to do in curbing issues relating to partying during StFX’s annual homecoming weekend.
This year, the calls for service and police files created relating to homecoming totalled 100. Between 5 p.m. on October 4 and October 6 at 7 a.m., Antigonish RCMP issued 65 Liquor Control Act summary offence tickets (SOTs) including 42 for illegal possession, 13 for illegal consumption over 19, four for illegal consumption under the age of 19, and six for intoxicated in public. Police also lodged 12 intoxicated people in cells, issued three noise by-law tickets and eight Motor Vehicle Act tickets.
Boucher said this year was better than it was two years ago and says progress was made with a working group including representatives from municipal councils, the police, StFX, the local landlords association, EHS, and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital. She said they received positive feedback for the amount of police presence over the weekend.
“Although it was a bit better this year than two years ago, when it was really bad, our council and the university acknowledge that there is still some work to do,” said Boucher. “In the last two years, the working group… has made great strides working together to try and mitigate as much disruption and as much harm as we can.”
Homecoming 2017 saw police issue 43 tickets for illegal possession of alcohol, eight for public intoxication, two for underage drinking, issued 24 motor vehicle charges, three charges of impaired driving or refusing to provide a breath sample, one charge of marijuana possession, and one charge of cocaine possession. Police also lodged 15 students in cells.
There were also a number of complaints in town about roaming students carrying alcohol, which was part of the impetus for the town offering $4,000 to StFX for an on-campus event during the 2018 homecoming. The town allotted another $4,000 this year for homecoming events.
“There was a great plan between the university, the RCMP and St. Martha’s Hospital to handle the extra pressure on outpatients,” said Boucher. “I’m pleased to say we will continue to work with all of the major partners to make sure it’s going in the right direction.”
She said a follow up meeting with the university will happen soon, noting there was consultation via e-mail.
“We have to remember that there is only so much control we can have,” she said. “We can’t dictate how much the participants drink, we can’t dictate how they move from point A to point B. What we can do is we can make sure they are obeying the law and that they are safe. That’s what we’re trying to do with the added police presence.”