Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Vancouver mayor non-committal on public viewing sites for Canucks' playoff run

Mayor Ken Sim: "Personally, I would love to throw a party right now, but we have to be responsible."
The City of Vancouver has not committed to activating public viewing sites of Vancouver Canucks’ games, where fans can watch Quinn Hughes and his teammates continue their run for the Stanley Cup.

The Vancouver Canucks’ playoff run to the Stanley Cup continues Tuesday at Rogers Arena but fans wanting to watch the game against the Nashville Predators at a sanctioned public viewing site will not have an opportunity.

Unlike the Canucks’ run in 2011 to the final against the Boston Bruins, where people could watch games for free via a big screen in such areas as Hamilton and West Georgia streets, the City of Vancouver has not committed to public viewing sites.

Mayor Ken Sim told reporters April 25 there would be “more to come” on whether sites will be activated. At the same time, he referred to the riots of 1994 and 2011, where alcohol-fuelled mayhem ensued in the streets after Canucks’ losses.

“Personally, I would love to throw a party right now, but we have to be responsible,” said Sim, who wore his Canucks jersey to council meetings last week and raised the Canucks’ flag at city hall.

The Canucks’ organization opened Rogers Arena for the two games in Nashville, but it cost $15 to get a seat in the venue. The Canucks have also hosted the Toyota Party on the Plaza for pre-game activities, but it is not a public viewing site.

The mayor said the city continues to meet with the leadership of the Vancouver Police Department and review the findings of the 2011 riot report, “The Night the City became a Stadium.”

“I don't think you can just say, ‘Hey look, we want to have a party, let's have fun and not listen to the experts and the people that have history,’” said Sim, describing the VPD as “the best police service on the planet.”

The riot report, authored by John Furlong and Douglas Keefe, estimated 155,000 people were downtown when the riot erupted June 15, 2011 after the Canucks lost Game 7 to the Bruins.

“Vancouver tried to do a good thing and found itself in an almost impossible situation,” the report said. “There were too many people, not too few police. No plausible number of police could have prevented trouble igniting in the kind of congestion we saw on Vancouver streets that night.”

'Great numbers were drunk'

The report said the VPD had “a good plan” to police the game and the aftermath. The plan had changed little from previous games when it had worked successfully, except the number of officers assigned increased from just over 200 to 446.

“The police came on time,” the report said. “The problem was that a great many people arrived early; and great numbers were drunk when they arrived or drank openly after they got there.”

Citizens and police were injured in the riot. Many downtown businesses, including The Bay and London Drugs, were heavily damaged and looted. Vehicles were set on fire, vandalized and some overturned in the streets.

But as the report pointed out, crowds were largely behaved through all playoff games leading up to Game 7. On Game 6, the public viewing site outside the CBC building on Hamilton Street was filled with people, including young families, cordially sitting on the street.

The report, however, said a street setting can prove to be unmanageable, as it did the night the riot erupted.

“Well-designed venues are crowd management tools,” the report said. “Streets are not primarily intended for large numbers of people, so crowd management relies more heavily on temporary measures and people — usually the police.”

'Consumed too much alcohol'

The VPD said in a news release April 22 after the Canucks won the first game against the Predators at Rogers Arena that they had concerns with people drinking too much alcohol in public.

“While the atmosphere was safe and festive throughout the night, our officers also responded to several incidents related to people who had consumed too much alcohol and were creating an unsafe environment for other fans,” said Sgt. Steve Addison, a VPD media relations officer.

Addison said excessive consumption of liquor often leads to disorder, fights and other violence that impacts everyone’s safety and ability to enjoy the festivities.

“We remind everyone to consume your liquor at home or in a licensed establishment, but not on your walk to the game,” he said.

Meanwhile, Port Coquitlam and Delta have both created public viewing sites at community centres.

The Canucks lead the Predators 3-1 in the seven-game series. Puck drop for Game 5 is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Rogers Arena.

[email protected]