Laurier and WRPS caution students against Ezra Street party celebrations
St. Patrick’s Day has a reputation at Wilfrid Laurier University for attracting large numbers of students on Ezra Avenue for infamous street parties known for their growing scale and cost.
Unsanctioned street gatherings have been discouraged year after year by Laurier and the City of Waterloo. In 2019, the crowd numbers on Ezra Ave. reached 33,000 people.
Last year, just as stay-at-home orders were beginning to take hold in the region due to the global spread of COVID-19, preventative measures were put in place to discourage people from collecting on the street.
A heightened police presence, security blockades and emergency vehicles were stationed along Ezra Ave., resulting in a drastically reduced turnout for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
St. Patrick’s Day 2021 is being approached by Laurier and city officials with similar caution and concern for student safety.
“As we look forward to St. Patrick’s Day this year, Wilfrid Laurier University’s top priority is to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Graham Mitchell, director of communications and issues management at Laurier, said in an email statement.
“As we do every year, we are working closely with Public Health officials, local police and emergency services partners to ensure the safety of our students and our neighbours.”
In a news release posted on March 11, Laurier advised students to remain prudent and aware, even with Ontario’s vaccine rollout underway.
“While the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is cause for optimism, it will take months before everyone who wants to be vaccinated receives their required doses, making it important to remain vigilant,” the press statement said.
“Making the right choices on March 17, 2021, means students should only gather with those in their household. They should also mask up and avoid unnecessary travel. Attending a house party, even if it is a backyard party, is risky behaviour at this time,” the release cautioned.
Fines range from $750 for party participants to $10,000 or more for tenants and gathering organizers.
Laurier’s Department of Residence will continue to maintain current COVID-19 protocols. Students living in residence are warned that the “no guest” policy for the academic year will remain in place.
Guests will also be prohibited from entering Ezra-Bricker apartments on March 17 and occupancy will be limited to building residents only.
“We strongly encourage our students to make smart choices and follow Public Health guidelines to keep themselves, their families, and the community safe,” Mitchell said.
“This includes not engaging in some of the most risky behaviours, such as backyard parties, house parties and unsanctioned street parties.”
Students are instead encouraged to avoid social gatherings altogether and celebrate virtually in order to protect members of the community from COVID-19.
“In addition, I just want to flag that the Region of Waterloo’s Medical Officer of Health sent a letter to the post-secondary students in the region, which we circulated to students on the Waterloo campus today,” Mitchell said.
More information to come.