With the Commercial Drive Street Party just around the corner, concerns are being raised over the potential effect on properties, businesses, and residents.
The Commercial Drive Street Party on Friday night is billed as an “anti-capitalist DIY party” where attendees are invited to bring everything from their own food, music equipment, lights, games, and whatever else can be brought to the site.
But businesses in the area are highly ambivalent about having the party right at their doorstep.
The Commercial Drive Business Society represents over 700 members who own and operate 450 businesses on Commercial Drive. The group says that the unregulated nature of the event presents the danger of damage to property, vandalism, violence, and disruptions for both businesses and residents alike.
“People are billing it as a fun, successful street party,” Nick Pogor, Executive Director, Commercial Drive Business Society told Vancity Buzz. “If you look at all the perspectives of the event, in fact it was a very unsuccessful, unwanted event.”
Pogor says an event the size of the Commercial Drive Street Party that lacks planning or organization ahead of time has the potential for disaster. A lack of sanitation, clean-up, and portable restrooms during last May’s event led to some serious issues for homeowners and businesses.
“People were using people’s yards for washrooms, there was a lot of vandalism that wasn’t mentioned in a lot of the news reports,” says Pogor. “There’s also a noise issue when events like this go past 10 p.m. I’ve had several visits and emails from people in the community, and they’re all telling me the same thing.”
For business owners, Pogor says some of the smaller businesses already struggling to survive are unwilling to open during events like the street party.
“There’s a trickle down effect in the community,” he says. “If they’re not willing to open, the people that work at those businesses lose those wages, and those mom-and-pop shops lose that revenue, making it even harder to survive.”
“We don’t have an issue with organized events in public spaces,” said Pogor in a press release from the Commercial Drive Business Society. “Our members are very supportive of free speech, but we draw the line when an event infringes on the rights of area residents and businesses. Property damage is costly and for a lot of businesses, is hard to repair.”
Vancouver Police have suggested residents avoid the Commercial Drive Street Party. Following the violence of last May’s event, which included four arrest and one stabbing, VPD attempted to contact the event’s organizers and offer their services to ensure public safety, but there has been no reply.
“We are concerned with what happened with similar groups in May,” said Sergeant Randy Fincham of the VPD at a media event.”Due to the level of violence… we are advising people that this is demonstration or a protest under the guise of a street party that is being organized by a select few people.
“Due to the public safety concerns… we are recommending that you do not attend this event.”
The Commercial Drive Street Party is set to take place Friday, August 21 at 8 p.m and Grandview Park.