Final bill for Ezra Avenue St. Patrick’s Day street party in Waterloo: $767,211
The final number has been tallied and the unsanctioned street party on Ezra Avenue in Waterloo cost the city, its two universities and emergency services a total of $767,211.
Waterloo Regional Police estimated that there were more than 33,000 people at the party on March 19, forcing the closure of Ezra Street as well as — for the first time — Bricker Avenue, as well.
A year earlier, police estimated there were 22,000 people in attendance for the 2018 party.
The tallied cost for planning and managing the event includes totals from Waterloo Regional Police ($286,400), the city ($90,500), Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services ($85,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($295,311) and the University of Waterloo $10,000.
“These costs aren’t sustainable and I remain very concerned about the impact the unsanctioned St. Patrick’s Day gathering has on our community, residents and first responders,” Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky said in a statement.
“This is money that could be better used to meet other community needs.”
Police say they made 18 arrests during this year’s event event while also handing out 514 tickets.
“We remain extremely concerned for the safety of those attending unsanctioned public gatherings,” Waterloo Regional Police chief Bryan Larkin said. “We remain equally concerned for the first responders who have to attend this event and for the impact it has on the community.”
There were also 80 calls to paramedic services during the event with 52 people being transported to hospital. Grand River Hospital received 59 emergency room visits in relation to the Ezra Avenue party which it says were mostly for over consumption of alcohol, head injuries, lacerations, falls and fractures.
St. Mary’s General Hospital emergency room saw an additional 19 visitors from the party between 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
“We continue to be concerned about the growing risk to public safety that these types of gatherings create not to mention the safety of our first responders,” Chief of Waterloo Paramedic Services Stephen VanValkenburg said. “Paramedic Services was prepared for an increase in call volumes throughout the weekend and worked closely with system partners to meet the daily needs of our community while managing the increase in volume in the Ezra Avenue area.”
WATCH: Increased police presence in Waterloo not enough to curb out of control St. Patrick’s Day party (2018)
An Unsanctioned Public Gatherings Task Force has been organized to look at ways to put an end to events such as the one which annually occurs on St. Patrick’s Day as well as the one on homecoming weekend which both happen on Ezra Avenue.
The city says that over the first year or two, the focus will be to reduce the size of the events with a longer term goal of eventually end them.
Global News asked Jaworsky if there was any consideration toward sanctioning the event and looking for financial benefits and he said the committee would consider all options.
He said there were several challenges in that option, however, which included the shifting date, the crowd size and the fact that the “‘unsanctioned’ aspect seems to be part of the mystique.”