Ottawa bars, police brace for St. Patrick's Day

Ottawa bars and police have been preparing for this year's St. Patrick's Day for weeks since the holiday falls on a Saturday.

Ottawa police and bylaw will be increasing patrols to respond to rowdy revellers

Justin Wright, assistant general manager of the Heart and Crown ByWard Market, says his location has been planning for St. Patrick's Day for months. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Bars and police alike are bracing themselves for bigger crowds as St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year.

Justin Wright, assistant general manager of the Heart and Crown in the ByWard Market, said his location is drawing on staff from other franchises and hiring more doormen in preparation for the crowds.

"This is the most important day of the year for us. It's the busiest day of the year. We get a line up before we even open," he said. "We're an Irish pub: this is our bread and butter."

The expectations for Saturday crowds are all that much greater, though it means they won't be getting a bump to their bottom line on another day of the week.

"It would be nice to have it on a Monday or a Tuesday, but Saturday just makes everyone a little more excited, gets people out," Wright said.

The bar will be opening for breakfast and showing rugby games during the day, Wright said, he's calling in extra staff for a long day of fetching pints and other fare.

University neighbours concerned

Over in Sandy Hill, residents are bracing themselves for what might be a long night.

Bob Forbes, vice-president of the community association Action Sandy Hill, remembers one of the last time St. Patrick's day fell on a Saturday.

"It turned into a really large street party, which got a little out of control in terms of alcohol and selling alcohol in the street. There was a lot of mess that was created a few years ago," Forbes said.

Forbes said residents are concerned about a repeat of the street party before the Panda Game last September, which he said drew nearly a thousand people.

The community association Action Sandy Hill has notified its members that a large party is planned for the area and they should be prepared to call bylaw or Ottawa police if things appear to be getting out of hand.

Increased police presence

Ottawa police Insp. Robert Drummond says police and bylaw have planned for the festivities in the Market, Sandy Hill and on Elgin Street.

"You're going to see more officers working on Saturday in the afternoon and into the evening," he said.

Insp. Robert Drummond said Ottawa police have planned for an increased presence to respond to the expectations of big St. Patrick's Day crowds. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Drummond said some of the work will be about educating people about alcohol safety, but there will also be enforcement — including RIDE check points for impaired drivers, foot patrols in the entertainment districts and, in some cases, house calls.

"For those who are hosting large house parties per se be respectful of your neighbours. We'll be out checking on some of those parties," he said.

"Make sure that you have control not having people out on the street and open alcohol on the street and noise problems. We want to avoid those types of situations."