Waterloo Regional Police aim to crack down on St. Patrick’s Day festivities

Photo by Luke Sarazin

 

Last week, Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) announced their intent and goal to increase student safety this upcoming St. Patrick’s Day by cracking down on the annual street party which takes place on Ezra Street.

Each year, the street part on Ezra Street continues to grow. Last year, approximately 15,000 students attended the party on St. Patrick’s Day.

After this past Homecoming, which saw almost 12,000 students gathered on the streets, WRPS has been vocal in regards to the toll that the parties are taking on their resources. As a result, WRPS has had several meetings since October to discuss the possibility of changing the culture that currently exists surrounding parties and binge drinking on these days.

Last week, Chief Larkin told Kitchener CTV News that WRPS will be actively discouraging any “street assembly” and will be cracking down on the gathering by ensuring people “move along” from Ezra Street.

“We recognize that we may not change this overnight, but now we’re sending a message around ‘This cannot continue,’” Chief Larkin said to Kitchener CTV News.

In correspondence with WRPS’ public statement, Wilfrid Laurier University has spoken out in support of their goal to end the culture surrounding the Ezra Street party.

“Concern for student safety has become more serious, and as a result, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) will have an increased police presence this year and will be taking a firm approach to enforcement.”

“The university has always actively discouraged it and that’s been communicated in pretty thorough communication plan that’s always gone out,” David McMurray, vice-president: student affairs, said.

“In addition to actively discouraging it, we’ve always promoted, as much as possible, student safety in respect to various campaigns the city has come out with.”

For the first time, WRPS has asked for the help from Peel Regional Police, who will be sending officers on St. Patrick’s day to help enforce the law and encourage safety amongst students.

“I think from the university’s perspective with concern about student safety, we’re knowledgeable about the city’s efforts to try and supervise and manage the numbers as best as they possible,” McMurray said. “But the police tell us that they’re not able to manage a safe situation, so we’re supportive of their efforts to change that and to increase the safety of our students.”

In addition to police enforcement, students who violate the law, receive a fine or charges will be facing additional consequences from the university as these violations are seen as breaking the non-academic student code of conduct.

“The university has always said that the non-academic code of conduct is in effect for any students who violate the law, that’s always been a part of the communication content,” McMurray said.

Consequences distributed by the university may range from discussions, suspensions and potentially expulsion.

In an email sent on Feb. 27 from the Office of Student affairs, Laurier students were given a guideline of reminders for St. Patrick’s Day.

“Concern for student safety has become more serious, and as a result, the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) will have an increased police presence this year and will be taking a firm approach to enforcement. You will see more police officers actively working to disperse crowds on the street and issuing tickets for all by-law and provincial violations such as drinking alcohol in public places,” the email read.

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