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St. Patrick’s Day 2022: Waterloo police chief asks residents to avoid large crowds

Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin. Kevin Nielsen

With COVID-19 restrictions on the verge of lifting and warm weather in the forecast, Waterloo Regional Police Chief Bryan Larkin issued an open letter Thursday morning asking area residents to avoid large gatherings on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Large gatherings continue to pose both a health and safety risk. As such, we kindly ask that you celebrate this year’s festivities responsibly – that you are respectful and continue to put the health and safety of others at the forefront,” Larkin’s letter read in part.

Read more: Waterloo’s top cop says police have plan in place for St. Patrick’s Day

“If you plan to celebrate, please do so in smaller gatherings, at licenced establishments, or at home. As your Police Service, our top priority is ensuring your safety and the safety of the entire Waterloo Region community.”

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival, crowd sizes continued to grow in Waterloo’s University District culminating with an estimated 33,000 people visiting Ezra Avenue and the surrounding streets in 2019.

That unsanctioned event led to 80 calls for paramedics while a similar amount of people visited emergency rooms at the two hospitals in Kitchener.

Last week, Larkin told the police services board that a plan was in place to deal with any sort of large crowds on Ezra Avenue this year.

“We have a significant operational plan in place to ensure the safety of all citizens across the region for St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.

Read more: Ezra Avenue St. Patrick’s Day crowd peaked at 33,000 people, Waterloo police say

Larkin told the board that he expects people will be ready to party once again this year.

“I think we can all recognize that after two years of celebrating virtually and celebrating in our homes, that many individuals – with the reopening of pubs and bars and the other institutions – that we likely will see people celebrating,” he said.

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