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Operation Safe Semester

Tribune file photo

What’s new this year is that cars parked on closed sections of Macdonell and Wyndham streets after 11 p.m. on these nights will be towed and impounded at the owners’ expense.

Core nightlife program kicks in Friday

A program aimed at calming the downtown nightlife scene will be repeated this year starting Friday Aug. 29, but with tougher treatment of people who park cars in sections of the downtown that are closed to traffic late on weekend nights.
The program will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from Aug. 29 until Sept. 28. It’s the third year in a row for the program, which coincides with the return of U of G students.
What’s new this year is that cars parked on closed sections of Macdonell and Wyndham streets after 11 p.m. on these nights will be towed and impounded at the owners’ expense, said a city hall news release.
“With the start of each new school year, we see a significant increase in activity in our community,” Jeff DeRuyter, the city’s acting police chief, said in the release. “In response to the increased demand for service, Safe Semester was developed with our partners to make this busy time of year a safe and positive experience for our citizens.”
The program is a creation of Guelph’s Downtown Late Night Task Force, which includes representatives from the city, Guelph Transit, Guelph Police Service, Downtown Guelph Business Association, University of Guelph, the Downtown Residents’ Neighbourhood Association and several downtown businesses.
The task force has worked for years to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and drivers getting in and out of downtown on weekends, and to prevent littering, public urination and other nuisances.
People can expect these changes between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. in the downtown on nights the program is in effect:
• Macdonell Street will be closed to traffic between the Macdonell parking lot and the West Parkade
• Wyndham Street will be closed to traffic between Carden and Cork streets
• One accessible portable washroom will be placed at Guelph Central Station
• One taxi stand will be located on the north side of Carden Street across from Guelph Central Station.
All parking lots will remain open and accessible.
Guelph Transit will offer late night bus service, starting on Saturday Aug. 30, from Guelph Central Station to the University of Guelph and surrounding area. Late night service will run from 12:30 a.m. until the last bus leaves the University Centre at 3:30 a.m.
“We hope the Safe Semester project will prevent collisions and increase safety for those walking and driving downtown,” Allister McILveen, the city’s traffic and parking manager, said in the release. “We want everyone to get home quickly and safely at the end of the night.”
The Safe Semester has proved to be a “resounding success,” according to a city staff report to council last October.
The evaluation, mainly based on statistics from the 2012 pilot program, includes Guelph Police comments that the downtown program saw an overall reduction in assaults, disturbances, intoxicated people, property damage and public urination.

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