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Homecoming weekend prompts safety reminders in Waterloo, Guelph

Universities in Waterloo and Guelph are urging students to act responsibly during homecoming celebrations.

Waterloo Mayor Dorothy McCabe released an open letter to the community ahead of Wilfrid Laurier University's homecoming celebrations.

"Please celebrate responsibly," she said in the letter. "Large street gatherings can be dangerous and put everyone at risk. Consider the direct risk to yourself, including health risks from binge drinking, personal safety in crowds and the potential for violence or assault."

Last year, Waterloo regional police made 11 arrests, laid 183 charges and had 298 calls for service in a 22-hour window during homecoming weekend.

A portion of Ezra Avenue was blocked off with fencing, as a precaution. That street is where students have historically gathered for unsanctioned parties.

A section of Ezra Avenue is blocked off on Sept. 23, 2023. (Hannah Schmidt/CTV News)

"Consider the risk to our community: if paramedic services and law enforcement officers are busy assisting injured students or addressing large crowd concerns, they aren’t available to respond to other emergency calls," said McCabe. "Our local emergency rooms and hospitals are already at capacity. Please don’t add to their stress by risking your safety or the safety of others."

This reminder comes after city councillors voted to tighten rules around unsanctioned street parties last week.

The city's public nuisance bylaw now lists homecoming weekend and St. Patrick's Day when nuisance gatherings might take place.

Jodie Johnston lives near the university district and she says wild parties over the years prompted her to build a fence of her own around her property.

"We've put up a fence in the front yard because that's where they urinated on our property so we put up temporary fencing this year," Johnston said.


Guelph police are also planning to deploy extra resources as the homecoming football game at the University of Guelph has traditionally led to large crowds gathering throughout the city.

Police asked people to celebrate safely and respectfully.

"We do have officers working just to ensure everyone that's celebrating can do so safely," said Guelph police spokesperson Scott Tracey.

In a video posted to social media, University of Guelph's interim vice-provost of student affairs Irene Thompson, said the school is excited to welcome students back to campus, but reminds them that they are part of a larger community.

"Be mindful that your actions impact those around you," Thompson said. "This weekend, make your safety and those around you a priority." Top Stories

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