British Columbia

Vancouver's 4/20 bill comes in at $148,000

Organizer Jodie Emery says event brings in big economic benefits to city's downtown core.

City says its cost for dealing with the event rose by 60%

Event organizers say 130,000 people attended 4/20 in Vancouver. (Simon Charland/CBC)

Vancouver's costs to manage and cleanup after this year's 4/20 events rose by 60 per cent from last year, says the city. 

The total cost of the April 20 event was $148,000, up from $92,500 last year. The costs include city services like police, sanitation crews, fire and rescue and traffic management. 

The city attributes the $55,500 increase to increased attendance and the event's two locations this year — its traditional spot in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery as well as its new location at Sunset Beach.

Police estimated 25,000 people were at Sunset Beach at the event's peak. Organizer Jodie Emery says as many as 130,000 people participated throughout the day.

The city has criticized 4/20 organizers for not obtaining a permit for the event, which a city spokesperson said would cover most of the city-incurred costs. 

Economic benefits 

But organizers say many of the taxpayers footing the bill for the event are the same ones celebrating, and the event brings other economic benefits to the downtown core.

"Every taxpayer present had a fantastic time," said Emery. "The businesses in Vancouver's West End doubled and tripled their business that day."

Jodie Emery is one of the organizers of Vancouver's 4/20 celebration. (CBC)

Emery emphasized, as she has many times before, that organizers can't obtain a permit because marijuana is illegal.

She said the celebration is held responsibly and organizers raised $100,000 for the volunteer-run event to cover expenses like toilets, security and first aid. 

"Everything we do is above board and professional," she said. 

According to Emery, the city's messaging around costs constitutes an "anti-marijuana bias" by making the event look like a problem, even though there were few incidents this year.

The city's breakdown of the costs are as follows: 

  • Vancouver Police Department: $99,400
  • Vancouver Park Board: $24,000
  • Streets and Sanitation: $13,600
  • Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service: $6,900
  • Traffic, Special Events & Emergency Management: $4,100