New bylaw gives authority to shut down street parties, including Ezra

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With St. Patrick’s Day 2018 approaching, the City of Waterloo has revised two bylaws allowing officers more authority to address unsanctioned events.

On March 5, 2018, the Waterloo City Council voted to revise the city’s property standards and public nuisance bylaws.

New revisions to the public nuisance bylaw allow officers authority to break up gatherings that are unsanctioned.

“St. Patrick’s Day would be a good example [of a party] spilled into the street [that gets] in the way of vehicles being able to drive through or people able to use the sidewalk. Changes introduced would allow us to say you can’t block [the street],” Tony Lavarone, director of communications for the City of Waterloo, said.

“It gives us another resource in our toolbox to be able to address unsanctioned events that might spill into the street,” Lavarone said.

The property standard bylaw concerns maintaining safety and cleanup on all properties, ranging all the way from excessive garbage to anything else that could bring down the quality of the property to public safety.

“If somebody was doing something that presented a public danger; say they were going on the roof and drinking, [prior to today] there wasn’t anything prohibiting that,” Lavarone said.

Violating these bylaws could lead to fines from $300 to $5,000 implemented by the court system.

A recent email issued to all Laurier students stated that all doors to academic buildings will be locked and monitored by security, with only the Turret available as a study space for the day.

Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Waterloo saw an estimated 15,000 students come to  Ezra Avenue, just steps away  from the Laurier campus.

The gathering cost Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) $120,000, according to WRPS Chief Bryan Larkin.

With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, the city is expecting the turnout to be a large sized crowd once again. WRPS confirmed they would be bringing in officers for support from Peel Regional Police for this year’s festivities.

Ezra Street will not be closed down.

“We really are encouraging anyone who might want to take part in St. Patrick’s Day activities to either do it in their own home or go to one of the many licensed establishments in Uptown,” Lavarone said.

The City of Waterloo, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Laurier, University of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services, Laurier’s Students’ Union and UW Federation have all been working together to ensure the safety of activities on March 17.

“We want people to be safe; that’s really what we’re stressing,” Lavarone said.

Revisions to the bylaws are not specifically being implemented for St. Patrick’s Day but will be beneficial for any festivities in Waterloo that may get out of control.

“We’re always continually looking at our different bylaws to see how we can make them better and how we can make sure we’re serving the community in the right way. This has been an ongoing process and the review has been going on for some time,” Lavarone said.

“We would do this regardless whether there was a St. Patrick’s Day event or not.”

A recent email issued to all Laurier students stated that all doors to academic buildings will be locked and monitored by security, with only the Turret available as a study space for the day.

“[We hope] people are smart about anything they do and that they stay safe and respectful,” Lavarone said.

“Also … look out for each other … If you see a friend that’s had too much to drink don’t leave them alone and try to stick together.”

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