British Columbia

Vancouver's 4/20 organizer vows to go ahead without permit

The Vancouver Park Board voted against granting a special event permit for the city's annual 4/20 event.

Event is in its 23rd year according to organizer Dana Larsen

Last year, the 4/20 rally was moved from its regular spot in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery to Sunset Beach. (Christer Waara/CBC)

An organizer with Vancouver's 4/20 event has vowed to go ahead with it, even though the Vancouver Park Board voted against granting the organizers a special permit.

On CBC's The Early Edition, activist Dana Larsen said the pro-marijuana celebration would go ahead on Sunset Beach.

"Look, we've been putting on 4/20 in the city for 22 years. This will be the 23rd year we're doing it," he said.

"We've applied for permits many times and normally they just ignore us.This is the first time anyone has even considered giving us a permit."

Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Coupar said the board voted against granting the permit due to the significant costs of managing the event, reluctance to break the smoking bylaw in effect in city parks, and what he described as a lack of respect for the park board's jurisdiction.

"There's a lot of things that are swirling around here and one is the complete lack of respect for the jurisdiction of the Vancouver Park Board and our role is to protect our parks. It's very hard for our commissioners to say OK, you can do it," he said.

A seawall cyclist surveys a 4/20 garbage pile after the 2016 event. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

Coupar also pointed out that last year's event at Sunset Beach — for which the group did not have a permit — left lots of garbage and paraphernalia behind.

"I recall statements from the group saying if the event happened at Sunset Beach, that the park would be left in better condition than when it started, that all the garbage would be cleaned up," he said.

Larsen acknowledged there were issues around garbage.

"We had a few issues with garbage at the end of it, which is more of a misunderstanding with us and the park board with how it was going to be dealt with. We've already resolved those issues with the sanitation department to make sure that never happens again."

Coupar wasn't convinced.

"I would have thought on your first event, you would have been doing your very best. If that was your very best, that does not give me a lot of confidence in your ability to follow through on what you're saying."

In 2016, Vancouver's 4/20 event — which takes place annually on April 20 — attracted tens of thousands of people.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the audio, click on the link labelled 4/20 organizer vows to go ahead despite no permit