22,400 party on Waterloo's Ezra Street for St. Patrick's Day

Police in Waterloo, Ont. planned to shut down Ezra Avenue to party-goers after last year's unsanctioned booze fest, but thousands of post-secondary students had a different idea. Kamil Karamali reports.

Despite their efforts, Waterloo Regional Police were not able to stop a massive St. Patrick’s Day party from forming on Ezra Street by Wilfrid Laurier University.

Thousands of post-secondary students and visitors from out of town poured onto the street throughout the day.

On Monday, police estimate peak attendance from Saturday’s bash was 22,400, up from last year’s attendance of 15,000.

Increased police presence in Waterloo as thousands attend St. Patrick’s Day events

“Our officers responded to several very dangerous and unsafe incidents throughout the day and into the evening,” said police chief Bryan Larkin.

“Over the next several months we will be meeting with our community partners to discuss how we move forward in terms of shutting down this unsanctioned, unlawful and unsafe gathering.”

Police said officers responded to 248 calls in the area, resulting in 619 charges being laid.

  • 62 under the Highway Traffic Act
  • 435 under the Liquor Licence Act
  • 16 under the Criminal Code of Canada
  • 45 bylaw offences
  • 50 under the Trespass to Property Act
  • Five under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act
  • Four under the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act

It’s a substantial increase from last year, when 197 charges were laid on St. Patrick’s Day.

In the days leading up to Saturday’s party, several steps were taken to prevent the party from happening, including recruiting officers from Peel Region, giving bylaw officers more power, and going door-to-door to warn students who live in the area of the fines they might face.

“We have said from day one that we want attendees to have a good time, but we want them to have a safe time,” Larkin said. “This is a major public safety concern.”

WATCH: St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Waterloo sees ‘significant’ increase in attendance, some charges laid: police

Kevin Petendra with the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services said they also saw an increased demand for service throughout the day and transported 40 patients to hospital.

“Twelve patients transported were in critical or serious condition, all related to alcohol and substance misuse,” Petendra said.

By-law officers responded to 143 calls and laid 35 charges for public nuisance. Officers also cleared 15 properties due to large crowds.

Waterloo Fire had 40 calls throughout the day. Nine of them were for activated alarms and 24 for medical issues.

Overcrowding, injuries mark St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Kingston

It’s not known yet how much this latest St. Patrick’s Day party will cost police.

Meanwhile, Guelph police said there were no major incidents from any St. Patrick’s Day parties. Officers stopped about 350 vehicles as part of  RIDE check and did not lay any alcohol-related charges.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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