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Regional councillor believes St. Patrick's Day street party shouldn't cost innocent taxpayers

Budget Committee Chair Michael Harris spoke with CityNews 570 on Thursday
St. Pats 2022 4
Police closed Marshall Street to traffic in 2022. (March 17, 2022)

"We are reallocating and wasting precious resources on a street party for students."

Waterloo region is preparing for another Saint Patrick's Day on a street jam-packed with students.

In 2019, the last year unaffected by COVID-19, tens of thousands of students packed Ezra Avenue, but the most recent year saw the unsanctioned street party take place on Marshall Street.

According to Regional Councillor and Budget Committee Chair Michael Harris, almost $800,000 was spent to keep the party under control. Harris said on a normal year, about half of that money is spent on police and paramedics.

"You can't have a street party and a bunch of drunken students out and about and not have the police involved," said Harris, citing hundreds of charges laid by police every year.

The universities and the City of Waterloo also have costs. Harris added that the costs are born from taxpayers and the ones he has spoken to are "fed up with having to foot the bill."

The Region of Waterloo budget was recently finalized, where multiple councillors denied the presented budget. A motion to reduce the Waterloo Regional Police Service budget by $1 million was one of the hottest debates during those meetings, proving just how tight financial resources are in the region.

Harris ended with a suggestion for people who are planning on participating in the unsanctioned street gathering.

"There are a lot of great Irish institutions, pubs and restaurants, that sacrificed dearly over the last few years that could use the support. I encourage all those folks that look at tomorrow's bad weather, to make alternative plans and celebrate Saint Patrick's Day in true Irish fashion and head down to the pub and have a pint with their pal there." 

Waterloo Mayor Dorothy McCabe also suggested that people spend their Saint Patrick's Day responsibly in a licensed establishment.

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