British Columbia

Brace for Occupy Vancouver, downtown businesses warned

Businesses in downtown Vancouver are being warned to brace themselves for the upcoming Occupy Vancouver protest, following the massive turnout at the protest camp in New York's financial district this week.

Police say they have met with protest organizers already

Businesses in downtown Vancouver are being warned to brace themselves for the upcoming Occupy Vancouver protest, following the massive turnout at the protest camp in New York's financial district this week.

The Downtown Business Improvement Association is warning shopkeepers to familiarize and prepare themselves for the October 15 protest.

"The current concept is to take over the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) lawn, bring tents and set up a camp to last until December. Over 2,000 people have indicated via social media channels that they will attend," the association said in statement on Friday morning.

"Vancouver area organizers are trying to attract local unions, among others, to participate, so the numbers may grow. There is the possibility of random marches through the streets or to specific locations that may be associated with 'big business.'"

Other possible issues flagged by the association include: 

  • Traffic disruption in the area of Howe and West Georgia streets. 
  • Mud may be tracked into surrounding properties if the gallery lawn is wet. 
  • Washrooms may become over taxed by protesters using facilities. 
  • Local food services may be taxed.

Police meet with organizers

Meanwhile Vancouver Police say they have already had preliminary discussions with organizers of the upcoming protest.

"We have already engaged in dialogue with self-identified organizers and we expect that we will communicate further with them in the coming days," said Const. Jana McGuinness.

Vancouver Police monitor more than two hundred peaceful demonstrations every year, she noted.

"Legal protests and demonstrations in Vancouver are welcome, and people are free to gather in any public space as long as their actions are legal," said McGuinness.

New York protest spreading worldwide

Protests are also planned in other Canadian cities such as Montreal and Calgary and Toronto.

The protests began on September 17 in New York's financial district when a few dozen demonstrators tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange but were turned out by police.

Since then, hundreds have gathered at their base at Zuccotti Park, not far from the exchange. The protestors have many causes, but much of the focus is on Wall Street practices and economic inequality.

The website Occupy Together said the movement had gained supporters in 670 cities and Americans continued to post hundreds of photos to the Tumblr blog We Are The 99 Percent, contrasting themselves with the wealthiest one per cent of Americans.

The protest even inspired questions at U.S. President Barack Obama’s news conference at the White House, where the president said the demonstrators are expressing the frustrations of the American public.