'Extremely disappointing': Police chief responds to three large gatherings in University District

Garbage on Ezra Avenue after police responded to a large gathering on Monday night (Carmen Wong / CTV KItchener)

Police Chief Bryan Larkin says recent large gatherings in Waterloo's University District are "extremely disappointing."

In a message released on Friday afternoon, Larkin said police have responded to three large gatherings, and one had around 1,000 people in attendance.

"This is unacceptable. It is irresponsible. It is extremely disappointing. Moreover, it is unlawful," Larkin's message said in part.

He reminded residents that large gatherings are prohibited amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"To openly defy public health guidelines that have been put in place to keep our community safe is simply inexcusable," Larkin said.

He added the gatherings have put an "unreasonable strain" on police and other emergency services and "puts our already overburdened health care system at risk."

"We understand the desire to see friends, to socialize, to get back to “normal,” although we condemn these selfish acts that put others at risk," Larkin said.

Police are working with post-secondary institutions and other community partners, and Larkin said they plan to enhance visibility and enforcement in the area.

"We are hopeful the community will help by not attending large gatherings and by abiding by public health guidelines," Larkin said. "This is about respect – for yourself, for your friends and family, and for your community."