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Bermuda Shorts Day party closes street, draws police to frustration of neighbours

A series of connected parties prompted police to close a block of a residential street Tuesday as students celebrated the last day of classes.

Students estimated as many as 300 people attended the annual Bermuda Shorts Day party that started around 11 a.m. and mostly ended with an afternoon storm.

On Wednesday empty beer cans, red solo cups and other trash left from the festivities was scattered across lawns and lined both sides of Unwin Road NW.

Police set up a command centre at nearby McMahon Stadium while officers supervised the party through the afternoon.

One neighbouring homeowner said the block party shouldn’t be allowed to continue on the public roadway, saying the damage and disturbance are too much.

Through the 2000s, the U of C Student Union hosted on campus events to celebrate the end of classes, but between the pandemic and rising costs, have scaled back in recent years.

RISING COSTS

Chris Willard lives a few doors down from Tuesday’s party. He says in the past there have been drunk people on roofs and hanging from eavestroughs. Alleys and back yards frequently used for toilets.

“Homeowners are not very happy, whether they’re renting or owning with the party taking place on the public street, we think there are other venues that would be better, for example, the parking lot at the stadium,” says Willard.

“We have commuters coming through on their bicycles, or parents taking their kids home from elementary school or trying to get through a crowd of drunk people.”

Student Union president Shaziah Jinnah-Morsette says sanctioned and controlled events in the past were effectively driven off campus and underground by rising costs from the University.

According to the student union, Bermuda Shorts beer gardens cost $17,000 in 2009, but those costs ballooned to over $98,000 by 2018.

“Things like an event space and security – not just for the event but for the whole campus for 24 hours. . .it’s pretty clear that was a deterrent,” says Jinnah-Morsette.

The university gave a statement Wednesday, saying it reached out ahead of the last day of classes.

“Leading up to the last day of classes, we worked diligently with the University Heights community and the Calgary Police Service to discuss the potential for unsanctioned, off-campus gatherings. UCalgary offered support with harm reduction efforts and assisted with clean-up.”

Police also issued a statement, putting the total number of partiers at around 1,000 spread around student neighbourhoods. They said there were no significant incidents and the crowd was friendly.

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