An independent review will look into police planning, the availability of alcohol and other possible contributing factors in Wednesday's riot following the Stanley Cup final game, the B.C. government says.
The provincial Ministry of Public Safety issued a statement Monday saying the B.C. government, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board have agreed the review will focus on:
- The findings from reports on the 1994 Stanley Cup-related riot and how those were integrated into the planning for the public celebrations this year.
- The Vancouver Police Department's plans for the event and the relationship of those plans to what transpired in the lead-up to and during the riots.
- The availability of liquor at public events and the contribution this made to the event.
The review also has a mandate to develop a framework for similar public celebrations in the future.
The government will name the person who will head the review in the next few days, the release said. The B.C. government will fund the review, which is to issue a report by Aug. 31.
"Shameful acts like those seen around the world demand a tough, independent and critical eye — and that's exactly what we expect this review to deliver," said B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Shirley Bond.
Bond says the review will look at whether lessons were learned from the 94 Stanley Cup riot and at how well the city and the police were prepared for this year's game, but she notes the review is not a full public inquiry.
"This is not a fault finding exercise. This is about recommendations for future events like this and to look back," she said.
NDP questions review's scope
But NDP attorney general's critic Leonard Krog doubts the limited scope of the review will answer all the public's questions.
"I think people want to know if mistakes were made, why were those mistakes made and who made those mistakes. I mean I do think we have to raise the issue of responsibility here. You can prevent everything but surely there are some things that must be anticipated and there may be some fault-finding," he said.
Krog says the ultimate responsibility lies with the rioters themselves, but he wants to know if any planning or funding issues played a role.
"...whether it's a lack of funding from the province that contributed to this, whether it was poor planning, whether there weren't enough officers in place to deal with the size of anticipated crowds," he said.
Police chief Jim Chu said he welcomes the review.
"Having an independent review of the events of June 15 is in the best interest of our city," said Chu.
Riot started with car fire
The riot began in the closing seconds of the Vancouver Canucks' 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Cup final.
It appeared to have started in the fan zone along West Georgia Street, when bottles were tossed at one of the giant screens showing the game to more than 100,000 people who had gathered in the area.
Within seconds, a car in the fan zone immediately in front of the city's main post office was flipped over and set on fire, while the contents of a number of garbage cans also were set ablaze.
In the chaotic hours that followed, more cars were set on fire — including two police cars — and at least a dozen stores had windows and doors smashed and were looted of contents.
Police reinforcement were brought in from the RCMP and Abbotsford police department, while Vancouver officers in riot gear fired flash bombs, rubber bullets and tear gas to try to disperse rioters and vandals.
The riot was declared over shortly after 11 p.m. PT, more than three hours after it began.
There were hundreds of injuries, most of them minor, and more than 100 arrests.