Due to the 4/20 pro-marijuana celebration planned for Sunset Beach on Wednesday, April 20, 2016, it appears that the Vancouver Aquatic Centre will have to close all day, CityHallWatch has learned.
This closure will affect regular and drop-in users of the pool, which on a normal Wednesday would be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
It is not clear what the costs to the taxpayer will be in terms of lost staff time, lost revenues from rentals, etc.
The unilateral and abrupt decision in February by Mayor Gregor Robertson to move Vancouver’s annual 4/20 pro-marijuana celebration from the regular spot around the Vancouver Art Gallery to the Sunset Beach location came as a surprise to the Vancouver Park Board, which went so far as to issue this news release (copied below) on February 15. The statement enumerated many concerns, not the least being that it is illegal to smoke in any Vancouver park, and concerns about water safety and risks.
Evidently, the failure to have adequate consultation with stakeholders, not the least being officials elected to govern Vancouver Parks, left a number of important factors unconsidered at the time.
Also, it is only coincidental that while the celebrants are out by the tens of thousands at Sunset Beach, Vancouver’s Board of Variance will be hearing appeals on City orders to close down some medical marijuana dispensaries (see BOV schedule here, the list here of 11 dispensaries going through the formal development application process now, and our story here on 62 dispensaries that planned to appeal the closure).
Park Board to Mayor: Elected Commissioners Strongly Oppose Sunset Beach Park as 4/20 Location
Vancouver Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung today wrote to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson with grave concerns that the City of Vancouver confirmed Sunset Beach Park to organizers of this year’s 4/20 event without the support of the elected Board of Commissioners. The Park Board has sole jurisdiction over parks in the City of Vancouver.
In the attached letter, Kirby-Yung advised the Mayor that elected Commissioners have serious concerns regarding the illegal, unsanctioned and unpermitted event and that the Board does not support 4/20 taking place at Sunset Beach Park or any other park.
“We respectfully request that you direct City staff immediately to work with organizers to identify an alternate location to Sunset Beach, respecting the will of the Board and the Parks By-Law prohibiting smoking,” said Kirby-Yung.
The Park Board Chair asked the Mayor for meeting with appropriate staff – at the earliest opportunity – to work together to identify an alternate location for a safe and orderly 4/20 event.
Should an alternate location not be found, the Park Board Chair advised the Mayor that she expected that all costs in ensuring public safety, refuse collection and repair of any damage to the park or beach and any legal liability arising for any unfortunate accidents or injuries at 4/20 in Sunset Beach Park should be borne by the City of Vancouver.
Vancouver’s annual 4/20 celebration say they’re planning to move the pro-marijuana, CBC, 11-Feb-2016, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-420-2016-sunset-beach-1.3445189
Consultants and travel drive a whopping increase in Vancouver mayor’s slush fund spending. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his staff spent a record…by Bob Mackin, 4-Apr-2016. https://www.biv.com/article/2016/4/consultants-and-travel-drive-whopping-increase-van/
In this article about the Mayor and his staff’s $264,137 for non-essential goods and services in 2015, including $174,321 on communications consultants, it is interesting to note some connections. Excerpt: Ko worked under Robertson from November 2010 to May 2015 … was paid $30,000 until last October for consulting services, stakeholder engagement and helping the transition to her April 2015-hired successor, Nicole Seguin. Seguin’s partner, Jacob Hunter, is a former Vision Vancouver data and voter targeting manager and ex-organizer of Vancouver’s annual 4/20 marijuana-promotion festival.
The public may wonder if personal connections like this were a factor in discussions behind the scene that led to an internal decision to move the event.
4/20 at Sunset Beach not ‘great safety recipe’, says Vancouver Park Board: Tens of thousands expected to attend annual April 20 smoke-in to protest pot laws and celebrate marijuana. CBC News, 16-Feb-2016.
Park board urges mayor to keep weed rally off Vancouver beach, CTV News, 15-Feb-2016. http://bc.ctvnews.ca/park-board-urges-mayor-to-keep-weed-rally-off-vancouver-beach-1.2778752
Vancouver park board fuming over 4/20 pot protest move to non-smoking beach, by Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun, 12-Feb-2016. http://www.vancouversun.com/health/vancouver+park+board+fuming+over+protest+move+smoking+beach/11718570/story.html