'It was much more tame than normal': Gathering restrictions temper homecoming weekend in Waterloo Region
Thousands of students and alumni came through Waterloo Region over the weekend to partake in homecomings at nearby universities, and Waterloo’s mayor said COVID-19 restrictions appear to have been obeyed.
“This could have been the best and most respectful homecoming ever, in my seven years,” said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky.
According to municipal enforcement, there were no unsanctioned street gatherings on Ezra Avenue. Between Saturday and Sunday, seven tickets were issued for not following COVID-19 restrictions, 10 noise by-law charges and two nuisance violations. Two large house parties were broken up.
Police blocked off entrances to certain roads around the city, and were very quick to break up any large gatherings.
The mayor said most gatherings were under 100 people, and when police or bylaw broke things up, most people were respectful.
“The kids still realize that COVID-19 is [a] reality. And when we went and visited them, we nip things in the bud, and they were respectful and happy and they really kept the party small” Jaworsky said.
Lukas Rüger, a Laurier student from Germany, said he was surprised with how controlled everything seemed after hearing about the type of parties that have happened on Ezra Avenue in the past.
“I don't want to seem disappointed, but I thought it [would] just kind of be like more crazy,” Rüger said. “The police did a very good job of containing everybody, and as soon as there was a large gathering, the police came by.”
“It was so much more tame than normal, and the cops were giving out tickets if you walked across the street with a beer in your hand, so a little bit strange but, you know, it was alright,” said Lukas Campbell, who visited the city for homecoming.
Jaworsky said Ontario universities tried to line up their homecoming weekends with each others this year to keep people from going to multiple events, which he believes helped reduce the amount of incidents in Waterloo.
The University of Guelph said numerous tickets and fines were handed out over the weekend.
A large, unsanctioned gathering had to be cleared on Chancellor’s Way on Saturday. Campus security also issued numerous tickets for trespassing, alcohol consumption and other violations at unsanctioned gatherings on campus.
Guelph police said there were 106 calls for service between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, which included 28 noise complaints and 15 incidents involving open liquor outdoors.
Officials handed out a number of fines to people hosting gatherings, as well as those attending who were consuming alcohol outside private residences and licenced establishments.