WATERLOO -- As St. Patrick's Day approaches, Waterloo regional police say they're working on a plan to deal with any potential partiers.

Ezra Avenue in Waterloo has been the site of unsanctioned street parties over the years. In 2019, an estimated 33,000 people came out for the day. But police are confident things will be different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've seen good response from students who live in this area around compliance and recognizing the state of emergency," Chief Bryan Larkin said.

In 2020, there were more police officers than students on Ezra Avenue. Officials don't know what to expect this year, but are preparing for any outcome.

"We are still actively enforcing complaints, especially specifically to the provincial legislation surrounding gatherings," said Nicole Papke, Director of Enforcement Services with the City of Waterloo. "We will be present as always throughout the city."

Students don't think it will be like previous years.

"COVID is such a big thing in our lives right now," said Madelyn Prizio. "But, I do feel that some people will try to come party, but I don't think it will be as big as it usually is."

"I am concerned there will be a lot of people, but I think there will be more backyard parties," Emily Cross said.

Jason Coolman, Wilfrid Laurier University's VP of advancement and external relations, said there could be consequences for students not following guidelines or the law.

"Our non-academic student code of conduct could include up to suspension, depending on the situation," he said.

Coolman said fewer than 1,000 students live on campus right now.

Waterloo Region remains in the red "control" tier, meaning gatherings are capped at five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.