Hectic pandemic Halloween for Greater Victoria first responders

Hectic pandemic Halloween for Greater Victoria first responders
WatchIt was a busy Halloween weekend for first responders across the region. This year, even though many were urged to stay indoors and avoid gatherings, parties still rocked homes and streets, and in the skies, a big uptick in fireworks.

It was a chaotic pandemic Halloween weekend in Greater Victoria, specifically in Saanich.

Fireworks were the biggest issue for first responders.

“Fireworks seemed to be the theme in Saanich and beyond,” said Const. Markus Anastasiades of Saanich Police.

“You could hear them throughout the night and into the morning. We got many many calls of fireworks being discharged.”

Fireworks require a permit in Saanich, but police believe many people never had one.

The University of Victoria was a problem area for police. One person shot fireworks at police responding to complaints.

“One of the suspects turned and discharged fireworks directly at our officers hitting them with the firework,” said Anastasiades.

“We were not able to locate that suspect. During our search, we did come across a young lady who was hit by a firework and did receive some minor injuries to her legs as a result. We were able to arrest an 18-year-old man. But he was not responsible for discharging the fireworks art our officers.”

But fireworks were only part of the story. Officers broke up large parties on UVic’s campus — some had hundreds of people.

A Saanich homeowner was fined $2,300 for throwing a house party with dozens of people.

Also in Saanich, police are investigating a suspicious dumpster fire sparked behind the Red Lion Inn, in the 3300-block of Douglas Street.

A burned trashcan was left behind in front of the Fernwood Community Centre in Victoria, with what appeared to be remnants of fireworks.

Victoria police arrested two people Saturday night after a driver hit a hydro pole in the 800-block of Esquimalt Road. Officers believed alcohol to be a factor. The driver was arrested for impaired driving.

In Vancouver in Granville Street downtown, it was shoulder to shoulder after bars let out.

Some believe it could have been fueled by pandemic restlessness. Edwin Hodge, assistant professor in sociology at UVic says it is possible that played a factor.

“There is this sense that a lot of people had that we are just over COVID. There was stuff being shared in social media in July saying things like ‘we need to get COVID under control, Halloween was on a Saturday and I am not spending it inside’.”

But he says it could have just been a perfect storm unrelated to the pandemic.

“It was on a Saturday, it was a weekend for students, for a lot of people with jobs,” he said.

“There was a nice bright moon out, nice mild temperatures, clear skies not a lot of rain, it is a perfect blending of factors to let people out and cut loose.”

There are worries on how much COVID-19 may have spread as a result of the gatherings. Saanich police are asking anyone with information on the incident with officers being shot or the arsons to contact them at 250-475-4321.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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