Park Board opposes Vancouver 4/20 festival's move to Sunset Beach

Dec 19 2017, 8:10 pm

The Vancouver Park Board wants to extinguish any ideas to move Vancouver’s annual 4/20 marijuana festival from the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza to Sunset Beach at English Bay.

Organizers revealed last week their plans to relocate the festival to the same West End beachside parking lot area that hosts the summertime LGBTQ Pride Festival, but the Park Board wants Vancouver City Council to halt organizer’s plans over public safety concerns and find an alternate location for the event.

An open letter written by Park Board chair Sarah Kirby-Yung, on behalf of Park Board Commissioners, infers that City staff gave organizers approval to host the event at Sunset Beach, despite the Park Board having jurisdiction over city parks.

“I would like to express our grave concerns that this took place without the knowledge of the elected Board of Commissioners,” Kirby-Yung wrote. “Consequently, I think it is important to clearly inform you of the position of the Vancouver Park Board, which has serious concerns regarding this illegal, unsanctioned, and unpermitted event. The Board does not support 4/20 taking place at Sunset Beach.”

“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.”

In addition to the jurisdictional issues, she notes that Park Board bylaws do not permit any kind of smoking at beaches and parks.

But if City staff are unwilling to consider a new location for 4/20, Kirby-Yung says the Park Board has a number of minimum conditions that must be met in order for Sunset Beach to host the event. This includes a “robust” Vancouver Police Department (VPD) presence, that is supported by the VPD’s Marine Unit, and passing on any costs and liabilities to the main body of the municipal government.

There have been growing concerns over limited capacity of the Vancouver Art Gallery precinct to host the event.

For the 2015 event, an estimated 30,000 people descended onto the area around the Vancouver Art Gallery, resulting in a closure of West Georgia, Howe, Hornby, and Robson streets. The event occurred during the evening rush hour and caused traffic mayhem in the downtown core. This year’s event also falls on another weekday, a Wednesday.

As well, 64 people who attended last year’s event were sent to hospital, likely from overconsumption of edible THC-laced products. There were over 200 vendors selling joints, bongs, and edibles.