Community partners continue to work together to end unsafe, unsanctioned large gatherings in Waterloo

Posted On Thursday September 21, 2023

Local community partners continue to work together to end unsafe and unsanctioned street gatherings in the City of Waterloo’s university district. The City of Waterloo, Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services, Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) and other emergency services partners, together with Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo continue their collaborative efforts to ensure the safety of students and community members.

Large street gatherings can be dangerous and put everyone at risk – including emergency responders and law enforcement officers who are trying to help in a crowd. There is risk for the community at large when teams are not available to respond to real/genuine emergency calls. There is also concern about the potential impact of increased demand from large gatherings on emergency services during Homecoming weekend, particularly when local hospital emergency rooms already have longer wait times.

Over the last month, WRPS, Municipal Enforcement and university Special Constables have been working together to increase their presence in the near-campus areas to welcome students back and encourage safe behaviour. With Homecoming weekend approaching, partners wish to remind students and alumni of the consequences that could result from their actions. Those identified could face fines, as well as suspension and/or expulsion from their post-secondary institution.

Students are encouraged to participate in the many organized Homecoming events, or to celebrate responsibly in smaller private gatherings. Uptown Waterloo bars and restaurants are a great place to meet up, and there’s also the opportunity to enjoy Lumen, the annual festival of art, light and technology  taking place throughout uptown Waterloo.  



“Municipal Enforcement staff have been helping with move-in and welcoming students back to the city, reminding our new student neighbours about the risks that large street gatherings pose for them and for the community. Our local emergency rooms are already stressed, and we don’t want to see anyone hurt or add to their load. We want alumni and students to celebrate safely and responsibly, and to be respectful of their neighbours and our city. We’ll be working with our partner agencies to make safety a priority.”

Nicole Papke
Director, Municipal Enforcement Services, City of Waterloo


“While we want people to enjoy the Homecoming weekend, we want them to do it safely and responsibly. If celebrating, we encourage you to do so in small gatherings or licenced establishments. Large, unsanctioned gatherings are not only unsafe, they place unreasonable strain on WRPS resources, as well as on our emergency service partners and on the health care system.”              

Mark Crowell
Chief, Waterloo Region Police Services


“The Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services continues to work closely with our partners to encourage all students to celebrate Homecoming in a safe, responsible and healthy manner. We encourage everyone to reduce the negative impacts of binge drinking, substance misuse and unsanctioned gatherings. Protect yourself and first responders by looking out for each other and celebrating at home or in a small group with people you trust.”

John Riches
Chief, Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services


“This time of year is so exciting, our campuses are buzzing with new and returning students. I have seen them out fundraising for Shinerama, running community workshops, and volunteering at events across the city. As Homecoming approaches, we are reminding students of the positive impact they can have and asking them to keep their community top of mind, to be respectful and look out for one another and our neighbours, as we celebrate all that makes us proud of being a Golden Hawk.”

                                                                                                                       Ivan Joseph
Vice-President Student Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University


“University life regularly takes our students off campus. During orientation week they participate in events in uptown Waterloo, many of our students live in neighborhoods alongside local families and of course, our community frequents local restaurants and entertainment spaces throughout the year. We're grateful to call such a welcoming city home. During this exciting time of year, as everyone is coming back to the community and as we celebrate our Waterloo pride during Black and Gold week, we're also reminding our students to do their part in keeping our campus and community safe by heeding the guidance of a regional officials and finding safe ways to celebrate being together again in person."

Chris Read
Associate Provost, Students, University of Waterloo




Media Contacts

Vanessa Barassa

Director, Communications & Issues Management

Wilfrid Laurier University

Cherri Greeno

Director of Corporate Affairs

Waterloo Regional Police Service


Rebecca (Becky) Elming

Director, Media Relations and Issues Management

University of Waterloo


Audrey Ready Holt

Assistant Director, Communications – Public Health & Community Services

Region of Waterloo Public Health & Community Services


Cari Van Niekerk

Director, Corporate Communications

City of Waterloo