Police Recognized for St. Paddy’s efforts

Last year's Ezra St. Paddy's Day festivities brought out more than 7,000 people (Photo by Shelby Blackley)

Last year’s Ezra St. Paddy’s Day festivities brought out more than 7,000 people (Photo by Shelby Blackley)

The Waterloo Regional Police Service received an award from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police for their role in keeping the Waterloo community safe during St. Patrick’s Day this past year. The award was given at a meeting of the OACP at the end of June in Ottawa.

The provincial award for community safety and crime prevention was given to the WRPS for their St. Patrick’s Day 2014 community safety plan.

The plan successfully lowered the number of students on Waterloo’s Ezra Avenue and reduced incidents of arrest and ticketing in the Wilfrid Laurier University area.

Partnering with WRPS were the City of Waterloo, Laurier and the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, who were also recognized as key partners involved in the St. Patrick’s Day community safety initiative.

The Students’ Union was quite involved with the community initiative when it came to ensuring students were able to have a good time in a safe manner. The Union’s current president, Sam Lambert, attributes much of the St. Patrick’s Day success to his predecessor, Annie Constantinescu, and her team for their collaboration with law enforcement.

“It was probably September or October that Annie and her team started meeting with our community partners,” said Lambert.

“I think the main difference that had been done from years past was the time at which discussions had started. To be honest, in the past I don’t think there had been any discussions at all between the parties, and the day just happened.”

Much of the success was a result of cutting the amount of students on Ezra Street nearly in half. One of the main reasons for this sharp decline in students was the inaugural tent party that occurred on Seagram Drive, which hosted around 3,000 students.

“The tent party was a very successful event — it completely sold out,” said Lambert.

“We had students in a contained environment where it was licensed and legal and wonderful. If we can do something on a similar or larger scale this year for students, that’s definitely something we’re looking into.”

With the fall semester fast approaching, the Students’ Union is learning from the successes of the past year, and has already started planning for St. Patrick’s Day 2015.

“We’ve already started communicating with the Waterloo Regional Police,” said Lambert.

“Within the next couple months we’re going to be starting St. Patrick’s Day conversations. Our priority is student safety and not issuing tickets. We want to divert people off of Ezra [Avenue] by giving them more options and while ensuring people can still have a good time.”

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