Firefighters latest to raise concerns about upcoming Vancouver 4/20 event
Vancouver firefighters are raising concerns about public safety at Saturday’s unsanctioned 4/20 event.
“We don’t have any idea how large the crowd could be. There’s no limits on the size of the crowd, there’s no designated exit areas,” said Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) Capt. Jonathan Gormick.
The festival may see larger numbers than usual this year because organizers have invited hip hop group Cypress Hill to take centre stage. Fire crews say the show could bring additional risks.
“Any time there is a large structure, electronics… there’s always inherent dangers and risks with that, and we can’t address them adequately,” said Gormick.
The Vancouver Park Board voted to call on 4/20 organizers to cancel the concert, with some commissioners asking Vancouver’s mayor to step in.
“I really think it’s time for Mayor Kennedy Stewart to show some leadership,” said Park Board Commissioner John Coupar.
Stewart says the city tried several times to discourage the event at Sunset Beach, but won’t crack down on crowds or take active measures to block the stage set-up.
“We don’t want to antagonize a large group of people,” said Stewart.
“We don’t want scenes we see in other cities, with tear gas and police on horseback riding through crowds. That’s not the approach here.”
According to Stewart, the city will take a less confrontational approach. Crews will check the stage for safety and inspect the field afterwards.
“We’ll be sending them a bill for all the costs, including policing, and we reserve the right to pursue legal action if they don’t pay,” said Stewart.
The mayor also said staff are considering other locations for next year’s event.
VFRS officials say the planning needs to begin now.
“It would be safer for everyone if we could look at the evolution of this event, and where a better place might be,” said Gormick.
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