The City of Vancouver will look into its options around taking legal action against 4/20 organizers to recover the costs related to this year’s event.
NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova, who has been vocal in her concerns about the annual pot protest, brought forward the wide-ranging motion Wednesday. It included clauses directing staff to:
· look into also taking legal action against businesses that provide equipment or services to the event
· report back to council with information regarding compliance of City of Vancouver business licence holders that choose to participate in the event
· communicate to the public the impact of 4/20 has on Sunset Beach and the financial impact to the city.
It also asked council to acknowledge “concern for the impact the ‘420 Vancouver Protest Festival & Farmer’s Market’ annual event has on the ability of the City of Vancouver to provide resources to all protests, demonstrations, civic events and emergency situation within the City of Vancouver Operating Budget.”
Council severed the motion and voted on each part individually — with only half of the original motion passing.
Most of council voted in favour of looking into taking legal action to recover costs — councillors Jean Swanson and Michael Wiebe were in opposition. A majority also voted in favour of getting a report from the city’s chief licence officer around the compliance of business licence holders that take part in, or provide services to, the event.
In a final plea before Wednesday’s vote, an emotional De Genova said she is concerned about the safety of the event, and urged her fellow councillors to vote in favour of the motion that is asking staff to look into exploring the potential of taking legal action and report back to council. Depending on what staff recommends, any final decision would be made at a future meeting.
“I’m worried about the safety of the people in our city,” she said. “I’m worried about the kids that go down there.”
Councillors Rebecca Bligh and Pete Fry both spoke about reducing stigma around cannabis use, with Bligh suggesting that the event could “…perhaps become a real economic stimulant for the City of Vancouver in the long term.”