There was a heavy police presence in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood Sunday evening to deter any out-of-control partying after the annual Panda Game.
The football match between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens is a highlight on the fall calendar for the cross-town rivals.
In recent years, however, kickoff has been followed by rowdy behaviour that’s left many residents of the U of O-adjacent neighbourhood wary of the event.
This year’s game ended with the Gee-Gees claiming a last-second 18-16 win over the Ravens. As the crowd of mostly students poured out of TD Place, there were no signs of unruliness.
“[We’ll be] having a lot of fun, being responsible and being safe,” said Will Wingrove, a Carleton University student, about his plans for the night ahead.
Parties following last year’s game resulted in multiple arrests for public intoxication and mischief and dozens of tickets. In 2021, thousands of people swarmed Sandy Hill near campus and some partygoers flipped a car on Russell Avenue.
Minutes after this year’s game ended, first-year student Avery Brazier said she was expecting “a lot of parties” Sunday night.
“Hopefully not too much trouble, that’s what I’m hoping for,” said Brazier, who goes to university in Guelph, Ont., but had returned home to cheer for the Ravens.
Marked and unmarked police vehicles could be seen patrolling several blocks of the Sandy Hill neighbourhood after the game.
Large groups of officers were stationed at some intersections, while bike patrols pedalled around, keeping watch for any overserved revelers.
Colin Sauve, a Sandy Hill resident who was out enjoying a local park Sunday afternoon, said he noticed some yelling and groups of people milling around — but overall, the neighbourhood was much calmer than in previous years.
“There’s a lot of police, so it’s more relaxed,” he said, adding that despite the trouble in 2021, the Panda Game weekend is a “fun part of the year.”
He said it usually gets pretty loud later at night, “whenever the alcohol starts seeping in.”
“They’re loud, but you just close the door,” Sauve said.
The game was shifted to Sunday instead of Saturday this year, in the hopes it would deter people from gathering in large groups.
The University of Ottawa was also hosting an afterparty on their campus, one where students could bring their own alcohol.
The university is also providing a shuttle bus so students can get to the ByWard Market.
Carleton and the U of O will be splitting the cost for police presence this year, which is usually around $500,000, according to Rideau-Vanier Coun. Stéphanie Plante.
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