The Vancouver Park Board is calling on the Mayor to step in and get organizers of the annual 4-20 smoke-up to go somewhere else.
The demonstration has always been held at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but this year, organizers say those grounds are not available, so they want to go to Sunset Beach.
But Park Board chair Sarah Kirby-Yung says that’s not allowed.
She adds the event is more of a festival, not a protest anymore — but not in the same class as events like the fireworks or Pride that make use of the area.
“And that’s really the nature of the event. Those are legal events, conducting legal activities, that go through a normal permitting process, and they do have a requirement to meet all park bylaws. As I said, this one would not qualify for a permit right off the bat because it doesn’t meet the non smoking bylaw on parks and beaches.”
“Yes it was one of the suggestions raised at the meeting. It is incumbent on us organizers to choose a location. And every year we successfully organize and orchestrate this big event, and this year is no different… In our meetings, they did raise it as a possibility, and left it to us to investigate locations, and that’s the one we determined.”
But acting city manager Sadhu Johnston denies that, but will work with the group to find a way to hold the event safely.
Kirby-Yung says suggestions the city may have been involved in the selection of the site are concerning.
“I think this is a real opportunity here and a learning for the City of Vancouver as a key partner with the independent Vancouver Park Board to engage us earlier in the process when things come up that may cross jurisdictions such as this.”
She says if the event does take place at Sunset, the City of Vancouver is up for the clean-up costs.
Asked for comment, the Mayor’s office released a statement encouraging “the Chair of the Park Board to discuss her concerns with the organizers of the 4/20 protest.”