Park board reduces estimated 4/20 clean-up after more thorough inspection

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      The lawntroversy continues following Vancouver’s 24th annual 4/20 protest and farmer’s market on Friday.

      This morning, the Vancouver park board (VPB) issued a public statement knocking four weeks off its initial prediction regarding the closure of Sunset Beach Park, the location of the cannabis appreciation festival.

      Prior to the event, a $30,000 protective covering was installed over the lawn leading to the main stage to mitigate potential damage. Despite proceeding without board approval, event organizers pledged to cover costs for things like sanitation and traffic control, as well as donating $8,400 to St. Paul’s Hospital and the Vancouver Firefighter’s “Snacks for Kids” foundation to offset the impact of the event on the surrounding community.

      Well over 400 registered booths set up shop on the main lawn and local law enforcement estimates over 40,000 people attended the protest throughout the day. Once festivities concluded, activist and organizer Dana Larsen announced on Twitter that the park showed signs of slight wear-and-tear but was an improvement on previous years. Larsen and his team stayed until 2:00 a.m. to help remove garbage and returned the following morning to continue their efforts.

      Early Saturday, the board responded by fencing off the park and announced an estimated rehabilitation of 10 weeks to recover from the damage caused to the grass and beach. Park board chair Stuart Mackinnon personally inspected the lawn and called the closure a “troubling loss of park space”.

      Following a secondary "full inspection of the field by senior park operations”, however, board officials now expect the waterfront park to be back up and running by the first week of June. The necessary work is said to include: drying, debris removal, aeration, organic topdressing, seeding, and germination.

      Event organizers and advocates spent their weekend clapping back on social media, suggesting the initial closure was misleading of the actual damage. Activist Jodie Emery, for example, published photos taken just days before the event showing minor flooding from over a week of rain. Public opinion remains starkly divided, but the majority is defending organizers for their concerted effort in maintaining the integrity of the park.

      The board attributes the revision to a bout of warm weather that will help "dry" the lawn. Final repair costs are still being tallied to bill event organizers.