Over the weekend the University of Ottawa and Carleton University hosted the annual Panda Game at Lansdowne Park.
I chair the Town and Gown committee, which collaborates with the university, students, the community and the city on Sandy Hill community issues. I want to thank residents in Sandy Hill for their patience and engagement.
While a great deal of planning had gone into mitigating the community effects of pre-Panda celebrations, including the hosting of a tailgate party to encourage attendees to celebrate safely and off City streets, we experienced major disruptions in the community.
I am not satisfied with Police response.
The amount of resources in Sandy Hill was impressive, but even with that officers were focused on the wrong things. We wanted all to attend the tailgate party. The organizers of the tailgate were required to ID everyone entering the zone. This created a long line, which ultimately spilled over to Russell Avenue.
Witnessing a group of six officers hovering over the tailgate lineup, forcing students to pour out drinks, did not allow for a successful tailgate.
Most who came to the tailgate were doing so in good faith, yet the line-ups and the heavy presence of Police made it unfriendly.
The validation of an illegal street party does not help our collective efforts on Panda.
Hosting a free, bring your own, environment in a City parking lot is a first. Closing down Russell Avenue due to illegal street party has become a yearly occurrence, causing serious safety concerns and private property damages.
We were hopeful this tailgate would unfold in a positive way for both students and residents. I see the closure of Russell, and subsequently, police enforcement mismanagement as a failure that could have been avoided.
I have reached out to the Deputy Chief of Police to address these specific concerns I witnessed.
In the coming days, I intend to meet with Police and organizers to address the community’s, the university’s and my own concerns.