Cost of clean-up, threat of legal action up in the air after 4/20

Vancouver Courier

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Two days after the 25th annual 4/20 event at Sunset Beach, crews were out putting up a fence around the field, and one elected official is hoping to see the city take legal action to recover costs.

A pile of garbage waited to be picked up near the entrance to Sunset Beach Park parking lot on April 22. Photo Dan Toulgoet

As the rain fell Easter Monday morning, a pile of garbage waited to be picked up near the entrance to Sunset Beach Park parking lot, and a small crew worked to erect fencing around the field. However, Vancouver Park Board has yet to issue an official statement on if the park will need to be closed for repairs this year.

In 2017, the park was closed for 10 weeks to repair the damage. Last year, it was closed for about six weeks. Organizers again this year brought in a turf protector in hopes of mitigating damage to the field.

Vancouver police said the crowd peaked at about 60,000 people “just before 4:30,” and organizer Dana Larsen pegged the total attendance for the day at around 150,000 with more than 350 vendor tents.

Crews put up fencing around the field at Sunset Beach Park April 22. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Police media relations officer Sgt. Jason Robillard said there were no “major incidents” reported during the event, and first responders dealt with more than 14 medical emergencies.

“Today was a good example of remarkable teamwork between the Vancouver Police, fellow first responders, the Vancouver Park Board, and the City of Vancouver, allowing for a safe environment during a large scale event,” Robillard said in a press release issued Saturday night.

Traffic enforcement officers issued more than 30 tickets and investigated three people for impaired driving.

Several media outlets reported that St. Paul’s Hospital saw more than 40 visits to its emergency room Saturday for symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and anxiety, related to the consumption of edibles at 4/20. According to the reports, none of the patients were minors and none had to be admitted to the hospital.

On April 19, one day before the annual event, NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova tweeted that she has a motion ready to go before council that would direct staff to look into launching legal action against 4/20 organizers to recover costs. As well, it would have city staff consider taking legal action against businesses that provide any equipment or services to the event, vendors who purchase booths and entertainers who perform.

Hip hop group Cypress Hill took to the stage at this year’s event, despite an emergency motion passed by Vancouver Park Board commissioners April 16 asking organizers to cancel the performance in an effort to control the size of the crowd.

The final costs of this year’s event have yet to be tallied. However, in the “letter of expectations” sent to organizers April 15, the city and park board stipulate that they “explicitly reserve the right to commence appropriate legal action to recover” costs in the event this year’s bill is not paid in full.

Last year, the city and park board sent organizers bills for $170,796 and $64,870 respectively. Larsen previously said organizers paid the park board invoice, spent $30,000 on the turf protector and donated $8,000 to local charities.

On Sunday, 4/20 organizers tweeted that $4,200 donations were made to Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society, CKNW’s Kids’ Fund and Variety Children’s Charity.

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