Attendance at Laurier University’s homecoming festivities dropped by 65 per cent this year compared to 2018 as police worked to reduce drunken revelry and create a safer, community-friendly event.
But police said more than 4,000 people still took to Ezra Ave in purple and yellow attire for the raucous annual street party.
Ezra Avenue street parties have been a so-called “Rite of Passage” for many years by Wilfrid Laurier students. This year, local officials experimented with different ways to curb the parties— and they have found some success in the process.
With 9,200 fewer people than last year’s homecoming festivities of around 14,000 people, officials are content with their beginning efforts to create a safer and more community-friendly environment for the event.
The roads of Ezra, Clayfield Avenue and Bricker Avenue didn’t fill up quite as badly as April’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with 4,800 in peak attendance. Attendees only jammed roughly two-thirds of Ezra and a small number ran off onto Clayfield. The streets didn’t start to fill until roughly 2:45 p.m. and by 6:30 p.m. the streets were deserted.
According to the Waterloo Regional Police, police laid 330 charges, down from 382. These included:
- 234 charges under the Liquor License Act were down from over 300 last year.
- There were 70 Highway Traffic Act offences and 16 Criminal Code offences—13 of those in which were not laid on or near Ezra.
- To compare, police last year only laid six Criminal Code charges.
- Police arrested 17 in relation to Homecoming, up from 12 last year.
- Only three arrests were made around Ezra.
In a media release from the WRPS, Stephen Van Valkenburg, Chief of Paramedic Services said: “Although calls for service in the Ezra corridor trended down slightly this year, call volumes in the Homecoming perimeter continue to increase and cause a significant strain on our resources.”
“We will continue to work collaboratively with our community partners and the Mayor’s Task Force on reducing the negative impacts of binge drinking, substance misuse, and unsanctioned gatherings.”
Grand River Hospital saw 24 patients arrive in their emergency department and St. Mary’s General Hospital had 12 patients arrive in relation to Homecoming.
Correction: In a previous version of this article, we had stated that Grand River Hospital was in Cambridge, Ont. In reality, it is located in Kitchener, Ont.