Niagara Police say 4 people were arrested and more than 25 tickets were issued on Saturday night after large groups of students partied hard in the Juneberry-area in Thorold, forcing police to bring out its designated prisoner transportation-truck.
Several Thorold residents who witnessed the commotion on Saturday night said that they saw large groups of people partying in the streets throughout the evening.
“I have never seen that many in one place,” said one onlooker.
“It looked like an army.”
Pictures from Sunday morning show litter, such as glass bottles and beer cans strewn across lawns and sidewalks, and a traffic cone crammed onto a traffic sign in the area, that is home to a heavy student population, as well as retirees and families.
Councillor Carmen DeRose told ThoroldToday on Monday that he was contacted both on Friday and Saturday from neighbours who were disturbed by partying.
“The texts I got were about people being woken up Friday night at 3AM by a big brawl going on and they heard someone shouting they were going to get spat, they were going to get a knife.”
According to DeRose, police ramped up its presence on Saturday night, following the disturbance the night before.
“By Saturday night I got a text saying finally the police were there and one guy counted about 15, and they had a patty-wagon, and they were there from 8 at night until 4 in the morning so it’s out of control in that part of town, it’s really terrible for the residents.”
NRPS confirmed to ThoroldToday that extra officers were deployed in the area on Saturday in response to partying, and that its specially-designated prisoner truck was brought in to respond to the situation.
“We were present in the area early in the evening to address issues before they grew and to liaise with residents,” said Const. Phil Gavin of NRPS in a statement to ThoroldToday.
“It is our understanding that this area of Thorold was popular over social media, and it appears that more than just the Brock students are attending to partake. Officers observed people getting dropped off in the area.”
Police and bylaw enforcement also discovered several illegally parked vehicles, which may be subject to fines or towing moving forward.
“It is our plan to continue to have a presence in Thorold and in the St. Catharines downtown core. We have seen an increase in person in both areas since the beginning of September,” Gavin said.
The incident comes amid growing tensions between students and residents in the area surrounding Winterberry Boulevard, which is a stone's throw from the Brock Campus.
During a city-run Town and Gown committee meeting on August 23, residents from two different households spoke up about the increasingly contentious situation between neighbours and groups of students hosting loud late-night parties, sometimes spilling out into the streets, and going into the early morning hours.
“I have been threatened. They also told me they were going to jump me and rape my wife. I feel like they’re wrecking the neighbourhood. I feel like I’m actually being bullied out of my house,” said one neighbour during the meeting.
“I can’t actually go back there and ask them to turn the music down anymore because it’s turning into a confrontation between me and them.”
“We enjoy students, we just don’t enjoy the unlawful behaviour we see demonstrated here,” said another resident.
“The drunk, the drug and disorderly conduct. They threaten and intimidate the neighbours.”
According to Brock officials, a delegation consisting of University representatives along with the city, including the Mayor, recently visited several addresses last week to try speaking to the residents and dissuade them from causing disturbances.
In a statement to ThoroldToday, the university said it was disappointed to learn of the weekend's events.
"We were extremely disappointed to learn about the large social gatherings and other negative activity in Thorold over the weekend. These actions do not represent our broader student body or reflect our university’s values," said Bradley Clarke, Director of Student Life and Success at Brock University.
Clarke said stakeholders including the university and police are reviewing the past weekend, as well as what to do for the future.
"As we did last weekend, we will continue to hire additional NRP officers to supplement their patrols of these neighbourhoods, and we will continue to educate our students through neighbourhood visits, social media campaigns, workshops and information sessions.”
Says Councillor Carmen DeRose said he things Brock needs to take more responsibility for the state of the neighbourhood.
“It’s just in that place of Thorold you wouldn’t want to live, you wouldn’t want to raise a family for sure.“
Mayor Terry Ugulini was not available for comment.