Kitchener-Waterloo

St. Patrick's Day street party cost $713K, officials say

The police and emergency service cost of the unsanctioned massive 2018 St. Patrick's Day street party in Waterloo was over $700K, city officials said Friday.

Task force developed to reduce size of event over next 2 years

Waterloo Regional Police estimate the number of people who attended the unsanctioned St. Patrick's Day party on Ezra Avenue in 2018 was larger than 2017. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

The police and emergency service cost of the unsanctioned massive 2018 St. Patrick's Day street party in Waterloo was over $700K, city officials say. 

"The 2018 St. Patrick's Day cost to the city, WRPS [Waterloo Regional Police Service], Waterloo Fire Rescue, Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo was a combined $713,500," the City of Waterloo reported in a document released Friday.

The breakdown noted in the release:

  • $330,000 for policing
  • $62,500 for the City of Waterloo
  • $120,000 for regional paramedic services
  • $191,000 for Wilfrid Laurier University
  • $10,000 for the University of Waterloo

Community leaders are meeting Friday morning in Waterloo in a task force to address the increasing cost of large, unsanctioned St. Patrick's Day parties in the city's university district.

Costs 'aren't sustainable'

"These costs simply aren't sustainable. This is money that could be better used to meet other community needs," mayor Dave Jaworsky said in the document presented to the forum. 

"We all recognize and respect the constitutional freedom of peaceful assembly," he added. "But we have seen a disturbing trend with these unsanctioned events where some people are taking unnecessary risks and potential compromising the safety of others."

The task force created to look at solutions will focus on three outcomes:

  • Reduce the event size over one to two years
  • Refocus the event over the next five years
  • Prevent escalation over five years and beyond

The task force will be co-led by police and city officials.

2018 party huge

An estimated 22,000 people jammed into the Ezra Street neighbourhood near Wilfrid Laurier University this year, making it the largest party yet of its kind.

This year, partly because the date fell on a Saturday, the unsanctioned party on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo started early grew  to the point that the city blocked the street off with two big dump trucks by noon to block vehicle traffic.

The Waterloo Region Police Service is live-streaming the forum.

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