Waterloo Regional Police are disappointed in student behaviour and concerned about the crowds at this year’s unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day street party.

On Mar. 17 the police, along and community partners, were deployed to Ezra Avenue in Waterloo in relation to the unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day street party that Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo students primarily attend.

Police said in a statement on their website that at its peak attendance was estimated at 33,000.

“This estimate is based on the attendance in the Ezra Avenue corridor during the day’s busiest time and is not a reflection of the total attendance for the day,” Cherri Greeno, media relations coordinator said in the release.

Initial numbers released last Wednesday report 205 calls for police services and 809 occurrences were generated from the St. Patrick’s Day gathering.  Officers laid a total of 514 charges for liquor licence act (376), highway traffic act (110), by-law (16), criminal code (6), trespass to property act (2), cannabis act (2), controlled drugs and substances act (1), and other (1) offences. The criminal code charges include assault, mischief, resist arrest, and impaired related offences.

Police arrested 18 people.

Last year, the Waterloo Regional Police Service laid 495 charges.

Bryan Larkin, Chief of Police said police and community partners are concerned about safety and will continue to try to find ways to quash the festivities.

“While this unsanctioned event started years ago with local university students gathering to celebrate the end of an academic year, it has grown into unlawful and unsafe gatherings that take place on St. Patrick’s Day and during Homecoming,” Larkin said. “Each year we remain concerned for public safety, but this year the density of the crowd was more significant than ever and causes us even greater concern. As we move forward, we will continue to meet with our community partners and members of the joint taskforce to find alternatives to this unlawful and extremely dangerous gathering.”

Waterloo Fire Rescue Services responded to 27 calls for service.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Special Constable Service issued 127 charges for trespass to property act (85), liquor licence act (31), and by-law (11) offences. University of Waterloo Police Services issued nine alcohol-related tickets.

Region of Waterloo Paramedic Service calls increased throughout the party. The got a total of 80 calls, that resulted in 52 patients transported by ambulance to local hospitals.

Eleven more crews of paramedics were added that day specifically to deal with the fallout from the Ezra Avenue area.

“The volume of patients and transports put significant pressure on our resources, as well as our local hospitals,” Stephen VanValkenburg, chief of Paramedic Services said.

“This event continues to be a significant public safety risk for the community and those involved in responding to the unsanctioned gathering.”

There were 59 visits to Grand River Hospital’s emergency department in relation to the St. Patrick’s Day street party. Most of the patients were admitted and treated for over consumption of alcohol, head injuries, lacerations, falls and fractures.  St. Mary’s General Hospital received 19 patients from the Ezra Avenue area between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

City of Waterloo By-Law Enforcement Services responded to 171 calls for incidents for noise and public nuisance.

They charged 25 people. There were 700 parking/traffic fines issued, and 35 vehicles were towed from the area.

A total of three residences were cleared due to large crowds. Lot maintenance orders were issued to 17 properties.  A multi-agency task force was set up in 2018 to look at the issue of large unsanctioned public events and to find solutions and ways to shut them down.

The public are encouraged to take part in a brief survey to give their opinion on the issue at www.engagewr.ca/public-gatherings.