Tens of thousands of people who attended Vancouver’s 4/20 marijuana smoke-out may have left Sunset Beach with a high, but the same can’t be said for city taxpayers left with a bill that is higher than many of the sanctioned public events the municipal government helps support.
In a release, the City of Vancouver says its departments spent a combined total of $245,379 on the unsanctioned and unpermitted event on April 20 this year – nearly $100,000 more than last year’s tally of $148,000. In 2015, the event cost city taxpayers $93,000.
This expenditure went towards policing, clean-up efforts, and logistical arrangements in order to ensure the event remained safe and orderly.
The wild growth in attendance at the event has contributed to the rising costs, with estimated participation climbing from 15,000 in 2015 to 25,000 in 2016. In contrast, this year’s attendance of 40,000 was 38% higher than the previous year.
Additionally, another 300 people gathered at Robson Square, even though the main event happened at Sunset Beach.
Organizers did apply for a permit with the Vancouver Park Board this year, but were turned down.
There will now likely be a debate on future 4/20 events given the skyrocketing costs year-over-year.
The 2017 costs are broken down as follows:
- Vancouver Parks Board and Recreation: $34,630
- Vancouver Fire and Rescue: $11,670
- Vancouver Police Department: $170,670
- Engineering (sanitation, streets, and traffic): $25,949
- Emergency Management: $2,370
These costs do not include regular City staff time spent coordinating with the event organizers and the costs incurred by other public entities such as BC Ambulance Service and St. Paul’s Hospital, where 39 people were admitted for treatment.
Taxpayers might be able to recoup some of the costs as the Park Board is expected to invoice organizers for their expenses, which include repairing damages to the grass at Sunset Beach and collecting between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds of garbage left on the site.