Teens, young adults and bush parties a bad mix, say police

Maybe or maybe not the leftovers of a bush party. Near Abbott Street.

(Photo: Maybe or maybe not the leftovers of a bush party, near Abbott Street.)

(Article via Crime Prevention Ottawa)

Every Friday afternoon when high schools let out in Ottawa’s neighbourhoods, some teens head straight for a “Tequila Sunrise.” It’s slang for the bush parties teens attend to kick off the weekend. Many young adults attend these parties too. With warmer weather upon us, we’re in prime season for these off-the-beaten-track get togethers.

They take place in parks, trails, forests, private lands and green spaces throughout the city and our rural areas. What may seem like harmless “teens being teens” to some parents comes with a range of risks. Here’s what you should know.

Alcohol and drug use
There’s no question that alcohol, drugs and bush parties tend to go hand-in-hand. Overconsumption of alcohol or drugs can lead to serious consequences, such as overdoses, violence or sexual assault. Bush parties take place in remote areas, so finding someone in need of emergency help can be a problem.

“The difference between an emergency and a tragedy can be a matter of minutes,” explains Stittsville Councillor and Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health, Shad Qadri. “Our emergency services have to get to the victim, but when a party is taking place in a secluded area, it can be very difficult to find it. How do you identify the location? A lag in reaction time can be very serious.”


Underage drinking
While some young people bring their own liquor, others have parents who supply it. It is an offense under the Liquor Licence Act for adults to supply alcohol to youth under age 19 for use in public places.

As Staff Sergent Andrew Buchan of the Ottawa Police Service points out, parents also need to consider the worst-case scenario. “If the bush party gets out of hand to the point where someone is seriously injured or dies, the adults supplying the liquor may find themselves the subjects of a criminal investigation.”

He warns that if a parent supplies liquor to a young person under age 16, and the police find out through a complaint or call for service, they will notify the Children’s Aid Society.

There are also the health risks of underage drinking. Ottawa Public Health offers several fact sheets on youth drinking – and the harm it causes to a growing body and mind. In a recent study, they found that 58% of Ottawa students in grades 7 to 12 reported drinking alcohol. For more information and advice for parents, visit ottawa.ca/en/residents/public-health.

Noise and litter problems
For nearby neighbours, bush parties bring other problems, including noise and garbage. Young people may set up old sofas and chairs, build fires and leave litter scattered on the site. There is also the risk of fires from discarded cigarettes or injury from broken glass. If you notice any of these problems in your area, call the City at 3-1-1 to report the issues to By-Law.

What to do about bush parties
If you have teenagers or young adults at home, talk to them about the risks and how to make responsible choices. Encourage them to let you know where they are going, who they will be with and how you can reach them. Check up on them. You may also consider locking up your alcohol at home. Work with your kids to help them find safe ways to have fun.

If bush parties are a problem in your neighbourhood, here’s what you can do:

  1. Report a party in progress to the police: Call 9-1-1
  2. Report noise or litter problems to By-Law: Dial 3-1-1
  3. Talk to your School Resource Officer: If you or your school-aged teen knows about a planned bush party, contact your School Resource Officer or the Ottawa Police Youth Section at 236-1222, ext. 5355 to speak with a youth officer.
  4. Talk to your Community Police Centre officers: For help in what to do to deal with bush party problems in your neighbourhood, call 613-236-1222 to speak with your Community Police Officer or see the full list online at ca/en/contact-us/community-police-centres.asp.

As Councillor Qadri says, “People say it takes a village to raise a child. The village is made up of many parents and we all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe.”

For more information about partying, alcohol or community safety, visit Crime Prevention Ottawa’s Neighbourhood Toolkit at www.crimepreventionottawa.ca/toolkit.


7 thoughts on “Teens, young adults and bush parties a bad mix, say police”

  1. I thought 911 is only to be used when there is a risk of imminent injury or death, or that property is in the process of being stolen.
    If one is supposed to call 311 to report noise in a park, surely that noise is due to a party, so what is it, 911 or 311?
    And it’s also not just about keeping our kids safe. It’s also about keeping other people’s kids safe from our kids.

    There is another problem in the making, related and on a more serious level. The whole cross country dirt bike thing has become very popular all of a sudden. There have been multiple sightings of kids on motorcycles in and out of town. Police have clearly not been cracking down on this, and the kids end up advertising this to other potential riders as a result. Kids have been getting into this more so now than ever it seems.

    I see them everywhere now. It’s absolutely out of control. They happily race across highways, and they seem to be getting away with it. These bikes are not street legal and some of them have fake plates to make it look like they’re licensed (there are companies that sell fake license plates online). They figure that with a helmet, no-one will know or recognize them.

    I bet that what they do is have various of these “sunrise” hangouts in rural off road places where they know that people will probably not find them, like quarries and places nestled deep in the forests. They take 1 passenger each or literally bus them to and from. This has always gone on but mostly by a more rural crowd, but with the surge of dirt bikes this is going to bring a lot more kids from town than before. Many parents aren’t home until after work, and high school is out at 3.

    There is a lot more going on than just a few local park sunrise hangouts around the high schools…

    1. It’s a friggen lie! 911 won’t do JACK about noise/parties! I live in a residential area, and we have had months of these jerk blaring his loud/bass-heavy music and Ottawa Police won’t do squat. We also called By-Law and they keep running us around, giving us no help.

      I don’t know why our Municipal/By-Law representatives even have jobs.

  2. Yeah that picture ain’t a bush party 🙂

    It’s from Sacred Heart’s outdoor ed program

    Perhaps some wise people have found its second use as a secret fort for bush parties!

  3. As a relatively Hip young adult I can promise you that nobody in this century has ever used the term “Tequila Sunrise”. Honestly it sounds like it is from the 60’s. Also the structure in the article cover photo touted as “may or may not be the remains of a bush party” is in fact the remains of a survivalist type structure made by the outdoor education classes at Sacred Heart High School.

    1. There are still kids from schools that host Tequilla Sunrise parties. And somehow kids have convinced their parents their school sanctioned. lol
      SRB for one.

  4. Thanks Devyn & Connor for confirming that the photo is not the result of a bush party. It looks like it’s built really well — likely not the result of a night of partying.

  5. Just an FYI there was a bush part last night at “the pit” someone has created the spot on google maps and it’s pretty easy to find.

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