City of Vancouver to decide fate of 420 rally

Ashley Moliere / March 5th, 2018

The 420 rally will be held at Sunset Beach this year but may need to find a new location for 2020.

people smoking fog cigarette marijuana weed cannabis pixabay

After the PNE board said “no” to hosting future 420 events Monday, the City of Vancouver votes Tuesday on the fate of the location of rally. Vancouver city councilor Lisa Dominato said residents and local businesses in the area expressed “significant concern” over the possibility of the 420 rally being held at the PNE.

“Relocation is not the solution to this problem.” – Lisa Dominato, Vancouver city councilor

Dominato also said one thing that will be deliberated Tuesday is if the 420 organizers need to decide whether they are a protest group or a retail event. She said in recent years, the 420 event has had turned more into a retail marketplace and it needs to be addressed as there are bylaws surrounding business practices in Vancouver.

City of Vancouver votes on this motion Tuesday.
(City of Vancouver)

Park Board commissioner, Tricia Barker, first proposed the motion and told BCIT News Monday the PNE would have the same problems with 420 that the Park Board has. Barker said its ultimately the city’s decision where to allow 420 organizers to host their event but the Park Board is responsible for scrutinizing organizers to make sure they take care of public property. Barker says there are many steps that need to be fulfilled in order to host events in parks and 420 organizers have not followed those steps in the past.

In the motion proposed by councilor Sarah Kirby-Young, one of the other reasons cited for moving the event away from Sunset Beach is damage. In 2018, the Park Board closed down the grassy area next to the beach for a few weeks due to damage allegedly occurred during the 420 rally.

Other reasons for moving the event cited in the motion include “impact on air quality, noise (and) vandalism.”

However, 420 organizer, Dana Larsen, disagreed with these reasons when he told BCIT News Monday that moving the event from the Art Gallery to Sunset Beach reduced traffic problems, reduced disruptions and increased public safety. Larsen said the beach is used for many other large events and it’s the only viable option for an event of this size or scope. Larsen believes it has more to do with stigma than anything else.

“The city, whose councilors and politicians keep saying that we need to de-stigmatize drug use and that we need to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing drug users…but, get those dirty pot smokers out of our parks, they not allowed to use any of our parks ever. To me, that is incredibly hypocritical and one of the many reasons why 420 is still needed as a protest.” – Dana Larsen, 420 organizer

However, Barker said the reason for pushback is much more simple.

“We don’t allow smoking in parks. That is the bottom line.” – Tricia Barker, Park Board commissioner

The vote takes place Tuesday at Vancouver City Hall.