British Columbia

Volunteer nightlife safety team to patrol Vancouver's Granville Street

Vancouver safety-advocacy group is deploying a street team to offer support and security to those who need it during a night out on the town.

Good Night Out Vancouver will wait with bar-goers for transit, charge depleted cell phones

The team members wear peach t-shirts and have backpacks filled with snacks, power packs, first aid kits and water to help those in need. (David Horemans/CBC)

Since the late 1990s, Vancouver's Granville Entertainment District has been known for its nightlife.

Now, advocacy group Good Night Out Vancouver is launching a Nightlife Street Team to make the area's bar scene safer. It's the group's latest anti-harassment campaign to stop behaviours that lead to sexual harassment.

Starting this weekend, the volunteer team will offer support to any bar-goers on the Granville strip that feel unsafe, scared or need general assistance.

Stacey Forrester (left) and Ashtyn Bevan, co-organizers of Good Night Out Vancouver, intend to increase safety and peace of mind in Vancouver's Granville entertainment district. (Elaine Chau)

"Good Night Out's mandate is to prioritize the safety of anyone who identifies as a woman or as a femme and also the queer community," said Vancouver chapter co-founder Stacey Forrester.

"We also know that there are other people who experience safety in other ways, and we're there to help anyone who needs it."

Members of the Good Night Out patrol carry Naloxone kits on their belts. (David Horemans/CBC)

The Nightlife Street Team aims to improve the sense of security on Granville Street. The team will focus on maintaining a visible presence on Friday and Saturday nights by working closely with licensed venues, security staff, police and business owners.

Members have been trained in first aid as well as non-violent crisis intervention to help with non-emergency and non-criminal activities. 

Forrester said the services offered by the team range from waiting with someone for a late bus to charging depleted cell phones using portable chargers carried by team members.

A GNO squad member sits with a young man sitting on a bench until police and ambulance workers arrive. When they checked-in with him, he was breathing but not talking, a sign that there could be trouble. (David Horemans/CBC)

'Tend to be hotspots'

Forrester said the Nightlife team was created to proactively make what she calls a vibrant and thriving entertainment district that much safer.

"Urban nightlife industries tend to be hotspots for behaviours that make women and some members of the queer community uncomfortable," said Forrester.

Bar-goers on the Granville strip feeling uncomfortable isn't a new thing.

Since the Entertainment District was conceived by Vancouver city council as a location where bars can stay open later than others, the number of police incidents have risen year-over-year and continues to be a problem.

Forrester hopes her team can make a difference.

For their first mission, the Nightlife team will patrol the strip from 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., wearing a "very noticeable" peach colour uniform, with Good Night Out's logo emblazoned on the back.

The young man on the bench was taken to hospital for further observation. The team continued on their tour up Granville and along Davie Street helping to reconnect friends, keep people safe and find cabs. (David Horemans/CBC)

With files from Bridgette Watson