Kingston closes popular pier and beach to avoid large gatherings

A no trespassing sign at the beach at Kingston's Breakwater Park. Sept, 2020. (Kimberley Johnson / CTV News Ottawa)

The city of Kingston has closed the popular Gord Downie Pier and beach area at Breakwater Park for the next 18 days as students return to the city for the start of the university and college school year.

Mayor Bryan Patterson issued an emergency order to close the park hours after Kingston Police and Bylaw Services responded to a party involving 2,000 people in the nearby University District.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the Gord Edgar Downie Pier and beach area at Breakwater Park will be closed to the public. The city says the closure is to "reduce the risk of large gatherings that have the potential to spread COVID-19."

Bylaw and police will be monitoring other parks in and around the district.

“The pandemic is not yet behind us. This measure is being taken to safeguard our community, on the recommendation of both KFL&A Public Health and Kingston Police," said Paterson in a statement.

"We know that the pier and beach area in Breakwater Park are extremely popular, and over the last few days we have seen large crowds that far exceed the current provincial limits on outdoor gatherings. We all look forward to the day such measures will be unnecessary. Unfortunately, the recent crowding on streets in the University District demonstrates the necessity of taking this measure today."

Anyone caught attempting to access the closed pier and beach area during the emergency closure could face fines of $2,000.

The city of Kingston acknowledges police and bylaw have been busy responding to large gatherings in the University District as students return to school for the start of the school year.