Similarly to every year at Wilfrid Laurier University, the Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) and the Special Constable Services (SCS) are sending out a firm message to students celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday — stay safe.
“We’re just encouraging everyone that we speak to not drink with the bottles, use a can or a cup when they are drinking legally on their front yard. Stay off the street and be respectful of your neighbours,” said Chris Hancocks, the operations manager at SCS. “Have fun, but be safe.”
Hancocks stated that SCS isn’t doing anything “in particular” for Sunday’s activities, but will communicate with the WRPS and be prepared in case any incident arises.
“We really will be focused on safety, but ensure that people are enjoying themselves but not to the point where they can be making themselves ill. We’re obviously ensuring that there is no property damage,” explained Olaf Heinzel, the public affairs coordinator at WRPS. “We have to work with bylaw officers from the city of Waterloo as well as the campus police from both universities to maintain a presence to help people when they need it and having an officer nearby is quite helpful.”
This year, the WRPS is hoping that using Twitter and other social media outlets will help ensure that students and locals are safe. They are encouraging the use of the #StPatsWR, as well as using their Twitter account to release updates and safety tips.
Last year, the unusually warm St. Patrick’s Day attracted over 5,000 students to Ezra Avenue. Despite the large mass of people gathering on the relatively short street — the vast majority of which houses upper-year students, with the university owning numerous buildings — no serious incidents were reported.
Last St. Patrick’s Day, a riot broke out in London, which saw 68 people — 26 of them Fanshawe College students — arrested. Heinzel, however, is confident that nothing like that will occur this year in Waterloo.
“I think it was good example of how the maturity students displayed in our area that kept things escalating that regard,” said Heinzel, adding that the WRPS will still have a presence in the student neighbourhoods. “The situation that they experienced in London in terms of provincial standards was probably an exception.”
According to a WRPS press release, WRPS laid 250 open liquor charges, 22 under-19 consume liquor charges and two public intoxication charges last St. Patricks’ Day. An open liquor charge is a $125 fine.
“We just ask people to be responsible in their actions,” concluded Heinzel. “Take it into consideration others. Be really mindful of the laws we have, they’re really there for their safety as well.”