After another Homecoming celebration this year that made more news about the after party than it made about the game, the Guelph Police Services Board is worried about the cost of celebrating in the city. At Thursday’s board meeting, options were explored about how they can approach the University of Guelph about making up some of those overtime costs.
According to Lisa Pelton, the Financial Services Supervisor for Guelph Police, Homecoming cost the service over 1,000 overtime hours and $72,000 in additional costs. Board member Robert Curran suggested that the board send an invoice to the U of G admin to show that they were serious about trying to recoup the cost of extra policing during university-centric events like Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day. Councillor Christine Billings made the note that $72,000 was even getting off light because good weather could bring more people out and increase costs.
Other members of the board felt that this move might be unnecessarily provocative. Board Chair Don Drone said that discussions had already begun with leadership at the U of G, including the president’s office, to look at ways that the university can share more of the financial burden when it comes to added policing costs for special events. He didn’t want to start a fight right off the bat.
“We’re not really interested in the blame game, we’re really interested in what can we do to collaborate to offset the cost,” Drone said after the meeting. “We’re not here to disparage anyone, but we want to say that this is a cost, it’s in a way unanticipated, and it’s something we don’t budget for every year.”
Drone said that the board has a responsibility to look at options, and that the University admin and the the Central Student Association also have a responsibility to help cover the costs. He also noted that this is an area of discussion that’s outside the purview of the service’s interaction with the Nightlife Task Force, which is downtown focused.
“By being a university community we’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last two or three years in order to support homecoming, which itself is a great event, but a lot of the citizens have been impacted in a negative way,” Drone said. “We want to make sure that some of those costs might be incurred by the university in partnership with us.”
Drone added that he doesn’t expect the university to cover the whole cost, which is what some people in the community have been calling for. “I don’t really think the taxpayer should be fronting all these costs,” Mayor Cam Guthrie told CTV News in 2018.
According to a media release after Homecoming this year, Guelph Police reported that they responded to over 200 calls for service during the Saturday, and issued 100 summons for offences like jay walking, public urination and open alcohol. Ten arrests were made for public intoxication arrests and the police RIDE team arrested two impaired drivers out of 2,000 checks.
Ultimately the board approved holding a meeting with the U of G admin stating that, “the Guelph Police Services Board send a delegation to the University to present and discuss the cost of both Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day to the Guelph Police Service.”