December 5, 2023


Wear your shoes inside, it’s not your house. Break a bottle? It’s OK, you don’t have to wake up to the mess in the morning.

Partying in off-campus residences might seem fun but for home owners, renters, neighbours and law enforcement, it can sometimes be a bust.

The most notorious and out- of-control party to date was back in 2012 at Fanshawe College in London on St. Patrick’s Day. According to an article in The National Post, in just five chaotic hours violent crowds of as many as 1,000 people tore apart fences, showered police and firefighters with bricks and bottles and a CTV news vehicle was set on fire which later exploded. This occurred in an off-campus student district.

But this was not the first riot London dealt with due to student parties. In both 2007 and 2009 Fleming Drive was the site of riots after students began spilling out of parties and into the street. The National Post article stated in both cases crowds of over 500 students lit fires, smashed windows and pelted London Police with projectiles.

In Waterloo Region, the biggest story was last March when police seized 4,400 Cold Shot beers, valued at $5,000, from a house the day before the infamous St. Paddy’s Day party on Ezra Street. Police found out students were selling tickets to the event, which included entrance and beer. The students hosting the event planned to donate the money to the local food bank, the Alzheimer’s Society, cancer research and the Toronto United Way. But, charges were laid under the Ontario Liquor Licence Act due to the fact that they did not obtain a permit to sell alcohol.

Legal, health and binge drinking concerns can arise from partying in off-campus student residences. According to a study done in 2008 by Statistics Canada, 47 per cent of males and 29.3 per cent of females between the ages of 18 and 24 reported drinking five or more drinks on one occasion – thus being categorized as binge drinking. That is the average age of Canada’s young adults attending post-secondary education.

Colleges in Ontario have put rules in place within their student housing units to ensure alcohol is consumed responsibly, but that has not stopped students who are underage.

“The main things they (students) get into trouble for are underage drinking and open alcohol and liquor in a public space,” said Olaf Heinzel, the public affairs co-ordinator at Waterloo Regional Police Service. “So, if you’re on a private space, the open alcohol isn’t an issue, it’s the age.”

In Waterloo Region there is a noise bylaw stating that at no point during the day or night is excessive noise acceptable.

“Neighbours have the right to call and have a bylaw officer investigate and have the officer go to the house and ask for the noise to be reduced,” Heinzel said.
But noise complaints are the least of their worries. Things like property damage play a big role in why parties in off-campus student housing are monitored by the police. If a person attending a party does get too intoxicated and begins to damage property, charges can be laid.

Kevin Van Bommel, a second-year mechanical systems engineering student, said he doesn’t really party in student housing, adding, “Every one (party) I’ve heard of has been busted by the cops.”

Students also need to take into consideration the size of a party before attending.

“As far as parties go and the size, you’re limited to what is reasonable for the property of that size,” Heinzel said, adding as long as you and your guests are of legal drinking age and acting responsibly, you shouldn’t run into too many issues when hosting a party.

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