Acadia University reunion celebrations took to the streets over the weekend, resulting in multiple arrests and charges.
A video shared on social media shows crowds of unmasked individuals thronging the residential streets of Wolfville, Nova Scotia on Saturday night. The scenes were similar to those in Halifax a few weeks ago during the Dalhousie University reunion.
Mayor Wendy Donovan said she watched videos and received a report from the RCMP on Sunday morning on the “traveling street parties” as she described them.
â€œOn the one hand, I understand that young people want to socialize and come together,â€ Donovan said.
“But it’s disrespectfulâ€¦ and it’s really disappointing that there is so much lack of awareness for the people whose property you damage and whose sleep you disturb.”
Donovan said loud parties are a recurring problem in the small college town. She said the council had tried to find solutions.
For example, she pointed to a regulation dating back two years that makes it punishable to organize a party that becomes a â€œpublic nuisanceâ€.
Donovan said there are now fewer big house parties, but she is concerned the regulations have caused people to take to the streets.
“Just when you think you’ve plugged one hole, another emerges. So I’m disappointed, I’m frustrated.”
Nova Scotia RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce said townspeople began calling police early Saturday afternoon to complain about large crowds, uncovered alcohol and “mischief”.
Joyce said the complaints continued late into the evening and the RCMP called in additional resources from neighboring communities to respond.
â€œThere have been many incidents of large gatherings with reports of a few hundred people outsideâ€¦ on the streets, in yards, that sort of thing,â€ Joyce said.
Under an order in the provincial health protection law, informal social gatherings without masks and without distancing are supposed to be limited to 50 people.
Joyce said that “numerous” tickets had been issued for violations of the Liquor Control Act and the Health Protection Act, and that some arrests had been made. He did not provide exact figures, citing ongoing investigations.
Joyce said he was aware of reports of people standing on cars.
Donovan said she was happy with the police response and believed she had done all she could.
She said she would like to see more events on campus, especially in the evening, for occasions such as reunion.
“If standing and drinking in the street is one thing, I’d rather it happened in college [grounds] in a form of controlled vision than in our residential streets. “
A spokesperson for the university said the school offered safe programs on campus and was “deeply disappointed” by the students who participated in the loud and destructive parties on public streets.
“The university condemns unruly behavior and apologizes to neighbors in Wolfville who have been disturbed or inconvenienced by the disrespectful attitude of some students,” Ian Murray said in an email.
“These actions are incompatible with the values â€‹â€‹of Acadia.”
Murray said the university will discipline anyone who breaks COVID-19 laws, regulations or protocols.