Pubdate: Sat, 11 Mar 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Page: A19


The mission of the Vancouver park board is to provide, preserve, and
advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit all people,
communities, and the environment. Its purpose is not to provide a
venue at taxpayers' expense for a special interest group that intends
to break city bylaws and to sell or otherwise distribute what is still
an illegal product.

The 4-3 decision by the park board commissioners not to grant a permit
to the organizers of the 4/20 event was the only reasonable position
it could take. Indeed, one wonders what the three dissenters were smoking.

For a start, a Vancouver bylaw prohibits smoking in local parks,
beaches and greenways - a bylaw that protects park users from
second-hand smoke, lessens the risk of fire caused by careless
smoking, and reduces smoking debris ( butts, packaging). There is no
reason for the park board to exempt this one event from the bylaw. To
do so would open the floodgates for other events to demand the same

The minimum fine for smoking in a park is $250. 4/20 organizers have
vowed the event will go ahead at Sunset Beach, so the city should
ensure police are present in force, not to bust people for marijuana
possession, but to fine offenders for violating the bylaw. Organizers
who say they will defy the bylaw should pay a heavy financial penalty.

The park board makes a compelling case that it cannot condone an event
where cannabis consumption by minors cannot be controlled, and where
youth are given easy access to both smoking paraphernalia and cannabis
edibles like candy and cookies.

The 4/20 event may have been a legitimate protest against marijuana
laws when it was first held in Vancouver in 1995, but with the battle
largely won and some form of decriminalization around the corner, 4/20
has evolved into something of a trade fair, bringing together sellers
of cannabis and related merchandise and consumers of it. This
commercial enterprise needs to be properly licensed and held at a
venue with age-restricted access.

4/20 proponents have attempted to compare their marijuana fair with
the Honda Celebration of Light, but there is no parallel. The
Celebration of Light is fully sponsored and its organizers take total
responsibility for logistics and cleanup. By comparison, the 4/20
aftermath last year left tons of garbage on Sunset Beach which cost
taxpayers an estimated $155,000 to clean up. One last thing: April 20
is a school day. 4/20 is not a statutory holiday. Schools must be
vigilant in taking attendance.
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MAP posted-by: Matt