Good Night Out Vancouver's harassment-tackling street team returns to Granville strip this weekend

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      After a successful pilot program last fall, Good Night Out Vancouver’s nightlife street team is returning to patrol the Granville Entertainment District this weekend.

      Comprised of four individuals who are trained in nonviolent crisis intervention, overdose management, and First Aid, the late-night crew will roam the downtown strip, between Robson and Davie streets, on Friday and Saturday nights, from midnight until 3:30 a.m., beginning this Friday (June 1). They will be equipped with naloxone kits, external phone chargers, bottled water, and other resources that will keep bar- and club-goers safe.

      Formed in 2017 by local anti-harassment group GNO, the nightlife street team aims to diffuse incidences of harassment, which may encompass anything from inappropriate language and catcalling to aggressive or unwanted behaviour, in Vancouver’s entertainment district. It has a special interest in ensuring the security of women and LGBT folks, two demographics that are especially vulnerable to misconduct in after-dark environments.

      “We want to be on the street as engaged bystanders, so if we do witness any harassment, we can step in,” GNO coordinator Ashtyn Bevan told the Straight in September. “But we also just want to increase the sense of safety for everyone while out.”

      The program will be funded by the Downtown Vancouver BIA until September, during which time city staff will determine a permanent funding strategy. According to GNO, the project’s pilot run from September to October 2017 saw the nightlife street team connect with more than 300 patrons, administering services such as supporting over-intoxicated people, assisting with public-transit and taxi access, and sharing information about late-night safety and harm reduction.

      The squad will continue to work closely with security personnel and licensed establishments on Granville Street, and consult the Vancouver Police Department when needed. The return of the GNO initiative follows a city council meeting in May, when Mayor Gregor Robertson put forth a motion that staff would work to find a collaborative funding model for the program.

      Those on Granville Street who are in need of assistance on Friday and Saturday evenings are advised to look for members of GNO’s nightlife street team, who will be dressed in peach-coloured T-shirts and carrying similarly hued backpacks.

      Founded in 2015, Good Night Out seeks to enhance patron safety, particularly that of women and LGBT folks, in the city’s nightlife scene. It conducts regular audits of clubs, bars, and late-night establishments to ensure that the care of staff and customers are prioritized. In March, the nonprofit also partnered with the Juno Awards to have its nightlife street team present at various Vancouver venues in the leadup to the 47th annual show.