Acadia University's homecoming celebrations spilled into the streets this weekend, leading to multiple arrests and charges.
Video shared on social media shows tightly packed crowds of unmasked individuals milling about residential streets in Wolfville, N.S., Saturday night. The scenes were similar to those in Halifax a few weeks ago during Dalhousie University's homecoming.
Mayor Wendy Donovan said she watched videos, and received a report from RCMP Sunday morning about the "roving street parties," as she described them.
"On one hand I understand young people wanting to socialize and congregate," Donovan said.
"But it's disrespectful … and that's really disappointing that there's so much lack of awareness for people whose property you're damaging and sleep you're disturbing."
Donovan said raucous parties are a perennial issue in the small university town. She said council has tried to find solutions.
For instance, she pointed to a two-year-old bylaw that makes it punishable to host a party that becomes a "public nuisance."
Donovan said that there are fewer large house parties now, but she fears the bylaw may have pushed people out onto the streets.
"Just when you think you have plugged one hole, then another one emerges. So I'm disappointed, I'm frustrated."
Nova Scotia RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce said town residents started calling police with complaints early Saturday afternoon about large crowds, open alcohol and "mischief."
Joyce said the complaints continued late into the evening, and RCMP brought in extra resources from nearby communities to respond.
"There were numerous incidents of large gatherings with reports of a couple hundred people outside ... in the streets, in yards, that kind of thing," Joyce said.
Under an order of the province's Health Protection Act, informal social gatherings without masks and distancing are supposed to be limited to 50 people.
Joyce said "numerous" summary offence tickets were handed out for violations of the Liquor Control Act and Health Protection Act, and some arrests made. He would not provide exact numbers, citing ongoing investigations.
Joyce said he was aware of reports of people standing on cars.
Donovan said she's pleased with the police response and believes they did all they could.
She said she'd like to see more on-campus events, especially in the evening, for occasions such as homecoming.
"If standing and drinking on a street is a thing, I'd rather it happen on university [grounds] under some kind of controlled viewing than on our residential streets."
A spokesperson for the university said the school provided safe, on-campus programming and is "deeply disappointed" in the students that participated in the noisy and destructive parties on public streets.
"The university condemns unruly behaviour and extends apologies to neighbours in Wolfville who were troubled or inconvenienced by the disrespectful attitude of some students," said Ian Murray in an email.
"These actions are inconsistent with Acadia's values."
Murray said the university will discipline anyone who broke laws, bylaws or COVID-19 protocols.
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