Loading articles...

Students at Wilfrid Laurier fighting for their right to party on St. Patrick's Day

Last Updated Mar 14, 2018 at 6:10 pm EDT

A photo of students gathering on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo on St. Patrick's Day. CITYNEWS.

Dozens of residents living near Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo may not be allowed to have any guests over this weekend, because of strict new rules being enforced exclusively for St. Patrick’s Day.

A handful of student residences near Ezra Ave. are allegedly cracking down on how many guests tenants are allowed to bring into buildings to control overcrowding.

An e-mail sent to tenants by Marq Student Communities, which manages apartments at 167, 168 and 173 King St. N., says each building is being limited to only 35 visitor wristbands on Saturday. Wristbands were handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Students are usually allowed to have one guest per tenant on every other day of the year. Tenants themselves won’t be allowed into these buildings without their keys and photo ID.

An anonymous CityNews viewer and resident at one of these buildings said this policy is frustrating and violates basic tenant rights.

“I haven’t experienced overcrowding inside my building ever, just some beer cans on the ground after the event. There’s nothing about this in the lease so students are signing petitions and trying to fight for their rights right now.”

An online petition had more than 300 signatures on Wednesday afternoon.

Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act states landlords are legally not allowed to interfere with a tenant’s reasonable enjoyment, unless it’s to carry out repairs.

It is unclear at this point if any students plan to take Marq Student Communities to court over this dispute. CityNews did reach out to Marq Student Communities for comment, but did not receive a response.

Last year’s street party attracted some 15,000 people to Ezra Ave.’s 400-metre stretch. The outdoor event is not licensed by the city or endorsed by Wilfrid Laurier University, but has been an annual occurrence for years. Its popularity tends to attract many non-students to the area.

Deputy Chief Kevin Petendra of Waterloo Paramedic Services says the event has continued to grow bigger and bigger over the years.

“We’ve upstaffed to have four ambulances to cover the event zone between Ezra and Bricker Avenues. Last year, we weren’t able to get an ambulance down Ezra, so paramedics will be on foot,” he said.

The most common calls during last year’s event were for alcohol and drug use and falls due to intoxication, Petendra said. Paramedics will have naloxone kits on hand to counter the effects of opioid overdose.

Paramedic Services have been in a number of meetings with police and the city over the past few months to organize a plan. Last week, Waterloo city council updated their property standards and public nuisance by-laws to allow officials to hand out fines more easily.

Waterloo Regional Police, by-law officers, city officials and university representatives went door-to-door Wednesday night to inform residents living on Ezra Ave.

Officials are expecting anywhere from 20 to 25 thousand attendees this year, because of mild weather and the holiday falling on a Saturday.