Police descend on Sandy Hill post-Panda Game


Young people pose in front of an apartment in Sandy Hill, with a sign above taunting Carleton University, after the annual Panda Game. The University of Ottawa beat their cross-town rivals 18-16, thanks to a last-second field goal. (David Fraser/CBC)

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. 

Panda game partygoers stand on a parked car during an illegal street party in 2021
Thousands of partygoers swarmed Sandy Hill following the Panda Game in 2021. (CBC)

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.

A parking lot on a sunny day with several vehicles, including black police vans, and several police officers.
Unmarked police vehicles and several officers are seen in a Sandy Hill parking lot Sunday afternoon following the big football game. (David Bates/Radio-Canada)

‘More relaxed’

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.

Ottawa stuns Carleton with last-second FG to win Panda Game

Campbell Fair hit the clutch 55-yard field goal to give the Gee-Gees their fifth straight Panda Game win over the Ravens.

Preventative measures

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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