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Seven people arrested during post-Panda Game celebrations in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood

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Ottawa police say seven people have been arrested and "there are multiple criminal investigations underway" following post-Panda Game celebrations in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood Saturday night.

Officers moved in to disperse crowds in Sandy Hill late Saturday, as thousands of students packed residential streets in the area hours after the football game between the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees and the Carleton Ravens.

In a now-deleted tweet late Sunday morning, the University of Ottawa said it regretted the disturbance caused by large crowds in Sandy Hill and would "confer with our partners to take stock and determine how to move forward with future Panda Game plans." The university issued a second tweet that removed a reference to the Panda Game and said instead that it would "take stock with our partners and discuss lessons learned."

Police reported an "escalation of illegal activities" in the residential neighbourhood near the University of Ottawa through the evening, with officers issuing dozens of tickets for open alcohol and excessive noise.

Police said that, as of 1:15 a.m. Sunday, 88 tickets for open alcohol had been handed out. 

Ottawa Bylaw said later Sunday morning that their officers had issued 109 parking tickets, 16 excessive noise violations, one littering ticket, and three tickets for vaping or smoking in a prohibited area. Nine vehicles were towed.

"The Ottawa Police will also provide the names of university students charged with criminal offences to Carleton University and the University of Ottawa so that student conduct rules may be applied," police said in a news release early Sunday.

Photos and videos on social media showed thousands of students packing several streets in Sandy Hill between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., more than six hours after the Panda Game ended at TD Place.

Police are now asking residents to give them any photos or videos of illegal activity they may have. 

Dozens of uniformed police officers were deployed for crowd control across Sandy Hill as the crowds gathered, while police and the University of Ottawa's social media accounts urged students to leave the neighbourhood and go home.

Two people were arrested for mischief and one person was arrested for public intoxication and resisting arrest, police reported on Twitter Saturday evening. Officers also said the crowd began throwing objects at officers in the neighbourhood.

"We are seeing an escalation of illegal activities and are responding swiftly. Partygoers: please leave the Sandy Hill area immediately," police said on social media just after 10 p.m.

Police also said there were reports of people swarming and getting on top of moving vehicles.

At 11:30 p.m., police reported crowds were beginning to disperse in Sandy Hill, but said officers would remain in place. The police service said Sunday morning that officers remained in the neighbourhood into the early hours of the morning "until the area was returned to a state of normalcy."

Hundreds of people packed streets in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood Saturday night as part of post-Panda Game celebrations. (Shaun Vardon/CTV News Ottawa)

After a relatively quiet day on the streets of Sandy Hill, crowds began to take over the streets in Sandy Hill between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. 

"Officers are working to disperse crowds in Sandy Hill. Objects are being thrown at officers – this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated," police said on Twitter just after 9 p.m. "Police operations will continue into the morning."

A few minutes later, police said one person was arrested for mischief.

"Illegal activity will be met with strict enforcement, and all appropriate enforcement options will be utilized."

A second person was arrested for mischief just after 10 p.m., police reported.

The University of Ottawa Gee-Gees Twitter account asked students to vacate Sandy Hill.

"In response to large crowd gatherings in the Sandy Hill community, we ask our students to vacate the area immediately.  Please. Help us #SavethePanda," the Gee-Gees account said.

A sign in Sandy Hill says a "No Tolerance Zone in Effect", as police monitor post-Panda Game festivities. (Shaun Vardon/CTV News Ottawa)

Officers on foot and in vehicles were seen patrolling the streets in Sandy Hill and ByWard Market Saturday evening, hours after the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees beat the Carleton Ravens 37-7 in the annual Panda Game at TD Place.

Police had vowed to take a "zero tolerance" approach to public disorder during the pre-game and post-game festivities related to the Panda Game, increasing police patrols in the ByWard Market, Sandy Hill and Old Ottawa South.

"I'm hoping everyone behaves," uOttawa student Presley Barwick said. "Hoping we all have a safe, respectful and just fun overall experience."

Last year's post-game festivities saw 2,000 people pack Russell Avenue in Sandy Hill, damaging property and flipping a vehicle. Eight people were charged with mischief during last year's late night incidents, and two people were charged with taking part in a riot.

"It was pretty frightening … I lived just on the corner where the big party was happening," resident Marie Jean Giammaria said. "It feels like they are going to really clamp down on students but they kind of never do. I'm not sure that things will be different this year."

University of Ottawa students celebrate on Russell Avenue in Sandy Hill following Saturday's Panda Game. (Aaron Reid/CTV News Ottawa)

Officers in marked and unmarked cruisers and on foot patrol were spotted in Sandy Hill in the early evening.

"With the amount of cops, there's no way. They are everywhere," uOttawa student Nikolas Tremblay said. "They are at ever corner so I doubt it's going to happen again."

Ottawa Bylaw says fines for excessive noise will be $1,000, with a victim surcharge adding another $130.

The fine for urination/defecation on a road or sidewalk during the Panda Game weekend is $1,000.

Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the city has worked with uOttawa and community partners to remind students to celebrate safely, or risk losing the annual event.

"It’s certainly an important game, it has local spirit … but at what cost and expenses to both the community and the city and policing," Fleury told CTV News Ottawa on Thursday.

In a thread on Twitter, Fleury said while most students are responsible, "those who choose to cause destruction stand to risk the game for everyone."

"Students should be aware that the costs for policing this football event are funded by tuition fees and ticket sales. This should serve as a reminder to party safely and respectfully, it is on students to hold each other accountable and act like responsible adults."

Ottawa police tell CTV News Ottawa that a bill for policing the Panda Game will be sent to the universities.

"As in many university cities, some of the public safety costs related to the Panda Game are being billed back to the universities," police said.

TD Place announced rules and a Fan Code of Conduct for the Panda Game. The rules include:

  • One drink per purchase per person
  • No Bags or Umbrellas
  • No Re-Entry into TD Place
  • Zero Tolerance for Intoxication or Harmful Behaviour

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Tyler Fleming.

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