St. Patrick's Day is coming up this weekend, and tens of thousands of people are expected to attend an unsanctioned street party on Ezra Avenue.
Waterloo Regional Police say they have a larger operational plan to deal with this year's event, which includes ensuring the safety of pedestrians passing through the area by temporarily closing roadways throughout the day, as per need.
Chief Bryan Larkin says they are planning for a crowd of 25-thousand to 30-thousand people in the university district.
'We've got some significant operational planning in place, with citizens and individuals in Uptown Waterloo in the university district who can anticipate seeing an enhanced police presence in the weekend, starting tomorrow [Friday]. We continue to increase and enhance our police deployment to ensure a safe festivity for the weekend."
He says the city may actually be the victim of sound, successful planning, which could make the annual celebration more attractive to partygoers.
"We've created an environment where people can come and celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and let out some steam, et cetera. We're seeing more people who want to check it out and see what's happening. So obviously, the Ezra Avenue corridor can only contain so many people. We have an operational plan to deal with the crowds, the potential overflows and the impacts on other roadways."
Larkin says their larger operational plan also accounts for the fact that cannabis is now legal and can be consumed publicly.
"There will be alcohol and potentially, cannabis. It's not something we've experienced significantly, cannabis on Ezra or in the university district. So we will see how that plays into it. But we do have a full plan on particularly the road safety aspect."
Last year's St Patrick's Day celebrations cost the city over $700,000.
Larkin says they are hoping to put an end to unsanctioned street parties in about three to five years.