Waterloo prepares for St. Paddy’s

The City of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Waterloo Regional Police Service are just a few of the stakeholders collaborating to make St. Paddy’s Day a safe environment for students.

File Photo by Kha Vo
File Photo by Kha Vo

With St. Patrick’s Day celebrations less than a week away, the City of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are in the midst of planning their approaches and safety services for the day.

Alana Holtom, corporate communications at the Waterloo Regional Police Service, said WRPS is in a joint planning committee with the City of Waterloo, Emergency Medical Services, as well as all colleges and universities in Waterloo and their respective student unions.

“We’ve all been sort of meeting in advance, planning and comparing notes from previous years and making sure that we’re all on the same page and prepared for this year’s festivities,” she said.

According to Holtom, XL Lifestyle’s outdoor tent party, called the Outdoor Pub, gives officers the ability to keep track of students in one area, with the only problem being traffic on nearby streets.

The Outdoor Pub will take place in a parking lot at 101 Seagram Drive and is an alternative provided to lessen the traffic on Ezra Street.

“We are reminding motorists and pedestrians to be extra careful in that area because we do see quite an influx of people sort of travelling back and forth which we haven’t seen in previous years,” Holtom explained.

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union is planning to provide safe spaces for students not participating in Outdoor Pub or Ezra Street, such as opening up Wilf’s and the Turret.

“Turret isn’t typically open on a Tuesday evening, but it will be for that night to provide programming and a safe space for students, as well as Wilf’s will be open all day to provide live entertainment,” said Samantha Deeming, the Union’s VP of finance and administration and current acting president while Sam Lambert is on vacation.

EMS is also partnering with Laurier’s Emergency Response Team to bring a pair of students to the Outdoor Pub in case of emergencies.

“We’ll have ERT volunteers there the entire day starting at 10 and they’ll be on shift until 3 a.m. There will also be a partnership that’ll be dispatched on campus as well,” said Heather Gaffney, the Union’s vice-president of programming and services.

Foot Patrol will be extending their hours, opening at 6:30 p.m. and providing walks until 4 a.m., to ensure students get home safely from the events. EcoHawks will also be helping the day after St. Patrick’s Day to help reduce the environmental impact such events might create.

Mike Horner of XL Lifestyle said the Outdoor Pub, which began last year in Waterloo, will include two tents, two stages and a free pancake breakfast when doors open at 11 a.m.

“With the success of last year and the positive feedback we received, we decided we would grow it a little bit,” Horner said. “It’s something that in the future if we are successful we’ll continue to grow and bring in bigger artists and more interesting acts and everything.”

Tickets for the event are sold out with 3,800 people planning to attend.

The event will be running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Deeming said the Outdoor Pub has helped the Students’ Union provide a safe space for students rather than having multiple crowds on Ezra Street.

“One of the main goals of the Students’ Union throughout the year and especially on days where people can get a little out of control is to be able to provide a safe space for students, so I think that it is benefitting,” Deeming said.

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