Waterloo is preparing for the potential return of a large unsanctioned street party on Ezra Avenue for St. Patrick's Day.

Fences were installed by the city on Monday along the road between King Street and Albert Street.

Officials have implemented a plan to manage the thousands of people who may descend on Ezra Avenue to celebrate the occasion, now that public health has relaxed restrictions on gathering sizes.

"I remember when I was in first year, it was a very big moment," said Gabriel Anton, a university student in Waterloo. “In terms of safety, it is a responsible decision; it makes a lot of sense to shut it down.”


Since the start of the pandemic, St. Patrick's Day has been a much quieter event on Ezra Avenue compared to previous parties in 2018 and 2019.

Bryan Larkin, the chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Service, addressed their plan to manage the gathering at last week’s police services board meeting. He reassured the community there was a plan in place but wouldn't share details. Larkin added that WRPS cannot support unsanctioned events, and encouraged those looking to attend the unsanctioned street party to instead celebrate responsibly at one of the many establishments in Uptown Waterloo.

CTV News reached out to the City of Waterloo for comment. In an email, a spokesperson for Mayor Dave Jaworsky said: "The city doesn’t have anything to add at this time. If something happens, we have a plan and we are ready."

Ezra Avenue is next to the Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

A spokesperson for the school told CTV News that they "won't be commenting in advance of any potential activity but are prepared should anything occur."

The fences that were set up Monday stand about six feet tall and line the sidewalks along the street – blocking some of the paths to nearby homes.

Students in the area don’t believe those measures will help curb the crowd.

"I don’t think it’s going to really stop anyone from getting together," said university student Alexia Robinson. "I know there’s still a lot of people coming down here."

For others who live on Ezra Avenue, the fences are already proving to be a nuisance.

“I just think it’s a little tough having the fences going around all the houses,” said Eddie Kristofferson, a first-year university student. “It just feels a little unsafe to me, very constrained. You can’t get out easily.”

Police estimate 33,000 people attended the Ezra Avenue party in 2019, making it the largest unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day gathering in the city’s history. Police laid 514 charges in 2019, up from 495 in 2018. About 1,000 people turned up for the street party last year.