The City of Vancouver says it incurred almost a quarter of a million dollars in costs related to two 4/20 marijuana day of protest rallies in April 2017.
According to a release from the city, the total cost for both events was $245,379. This includes costs to the parks, fire and police departments, as well as costs for sanitation, traffic management and emergency management.
The city says the Sunset Beach event cost it $170,005 and another separate event at the Vancouver Art Gallery cost $75,374. The city notes that neither event was sanctioned by the city or the park board.
Of the $245,379, the most significant single cost was for policing, which the city says cost $170,670 between the two events.
The city says the figures do not include costs to BC Ambulance Service or Vancouver Coastal Health, or regular staff wages.
Dana Larsen, one of the organizers of the 4/20 event held at Sunset Beach, said his team worked with the city, the park board and police to ensure a safe event, even though they were unable to get a permit.
Larsen believes the nature of the event — which bills itself as a protest and a celebration of cannabis culture — brings undue criticism to the public costs.
"If this was any other kind of large community event, what we'd see in the press release from the city would be a mention of the huge economic benefits that these kind of events bring in," Larsen said.
"The real waste of money here is putting people in jail and continuing to arrest people for cannabis offences, and that's where the outrage over the costs should be."
In the release, the city and park board say they will work with organizers to "find an appropriate venue" for any future events.
Larsen said he'd like to see the event move to the PNE grounds, but added that would require convincing the PNE board, which he doesn't think is likely.
If that doesn't happen, Larsen plans to continue holding the event at Sunset Beach.
With files from Deborah Goble.