Vancouver city council approves riot review recommendations
Vancouver city council approved up to $1 million from the municipality’s contingency reserve fund today (September 6) to cover costs related to the Stanley Cup finals live sites and the June 15 riot.
According to an internal city review of the riot, the overall impact of the Stanley Cup Fan Zone, policing and costs incurred due to the riot will total nearly $2 million, with about half expected to be absorbed within existing operating budgets.
Council also voted to implement recommendations contained in the internal review, including designating an external organization responsible for hosting any large public event.
"We see ourselves in an enabling role, with a partner," deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston said during a special council meeting. "We don't see ourselves as hosting activations of this magnitude in the future, and it's not really our role."
Councillors opted to refer a proposal to enhance the city’s use of closed-circuit television cameras during special events to city staff as part of a major event management policy.
An separate internal review of the riot released by Vancouver police references the VPD's support for the use of CCTV cameras.
According to a motion introduced by Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs, the event management policy will take into account the input of stakeholders, and the advice of civil liberties experts, crowd control experts, and the Vancouver Police Department on the use of closed-circuit cameras.
Mayor Gregor Robertson indicated the city should proceed "aggressively" on addressing recommendations from the external review released last week, and the city's internal review.
“Clearly these reviews give us a whole new context to look at a large-scale event like Game 7," he said.
Council also directed staff to report back on the steps necessary to establish a municipal alcohol policy.
The measure was recommended in a presentation to city council by Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical health officer Patricia Daly.
Daly told council that the health region was aware that alcohol was involved in an increase in emergency room visits throughout the playoffs. During the evening of June 15, 114 riot-related patients were seen, including 37 percent who had documented alcohol consumption on their charts.
Among the measures Daly recommended for large-scale public events include implementing health promotion messaging targeting youth prior to events, closing off liquor sales at pre-set times on the day of the event, banning alcohol on transit on days of events, and providing police with the ability to conduct random searches on transit and at the event.
Other measures included in the city’s internal riot review, and endorsed by council today, include evaluating the possibility of limiting the number of people traveling downtown during future public events.
“Mid-day, we knew that there were more people than we were prepared for, and I think we can do better in communicating with all of our partners real time to understand that there’s larger capacity to either slow that down, reduce the number of trains coming in, those kinds of actions,” Johnston told council.
NPA councillor Suzanne Anton, who was the only councillor present to vote against Meggs’ motion, directed a series of questions at Robertson during the meeting, continuing to ask the mayor to “accept accountability” for the June 15 riot.
“You are the mayor, and the buck stops at your desk,” she said. “There’s one phrase that the public wants to hear, and that’s, 'I’m sorry'.”
“I have said that I’m responsible for public safety in the city of Vancouver,” Robertson responded. “I have said it repeatedly for many, many weeks now.”
“In fact, it’s not just me, but it’s the mayor and council...I would remind you that as a member of council, you share some of that responsibility as well," he added.
During discussion on the city's internal review, COPE councillor Ellen Woodsworth questioned the use of closed-circuit television cameras.
“There’s been studies done on the use of CCTVs, particularly in England, over many years and it’s been shown that it doesn’t help apprehend or lead to the conviction of people who’ve done illegal acts,” Woodsworth told the Straight in an interview.
Woodsworth also wants to see an internal review launched by the NHL.
“I think it’s unbelievable that the National Hockey League has not come up with a study,” she said. “I think they need to have an independent review of their responsibility towards Stanley Cup riots.”
The city’s internal review criticized the NHL for what the report claimed is “no approach, no policy and no apparent strategy to work with host franchises and municipalities on this issue which clearly will over time threaten the value and perception of their brand”.
A letter from Vancouver Canucks CEO Victor de Bonis included in an appendix of the city’s internal riot review indicates the NHL franchise's intention to “do what we can” to support the city and province during future public viewing events.
Canucks initiatives for future games outlined in the letter include public service announcements that will be shown in-arena and televised during games with messages about celebrating responsibly.