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Despite attempts to suppress 4/20, organizers dig their heels in, maintain event is a protest

Last Updated Apr 18, 2019 at 9:47 am PDT

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Organizers of the upcoming 4/20 event and members of the Vancouver Park Board still don’t see eye-to-eye on the gathering, two days before it’s set to take place.

The debate over the cost as well as location of the unsanctioned event rages on, with organizers maintaining it’s a protest and should be left alone.

Organizer Dana Larsen adds the group coughs up most of the costs associated with the event, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to Sunset Beach to toke up.

“Last year we became the only protest in the city to cover all of the City and Park Board costs, other than policing,” Larsen said.

It’s a claim Park Board Commissioner John Coupar says is not so.

“Total to the taxpayers of Vancouver over the last two years, for Mr. Larsen’s commercial event, has been $583,784,” he said.

The two went head-to-head on Breakfast Television Thursday morning, days after the Park Board passed a motion, which would see it ask 4/20 organizers to cancel a performance by hip hop group Cypress Hill.

With smoking not allowed at the beach, Coupar says the event should go elsewhere. When asked whether organizers would consider moving the event to a non-park venue, Larsen noted bylaws can be changed.

“People drinking beer on the beach without a permit, saying they want to drink beer on the beaches the Park Board said ‘Alright, we’ll change the bylaw, let you drink beer on the beaches.'”

On whether amendments could actually be made to allow smoking in parks in the future, Coupar notes some concerns.

“In the larger events like Celebration of Lights, Pride, [Skookum], there’s a contained area and everybody serving there has Serving It Right. So there’s regulations around that, and there’s permitting required, and they have to follow all the rules… we just heard from Vancouver Fire Services that they’re very concerned that the operators are not cooperating in terms of the exits and the size, and that’s been what the Park Board has said.”

The 4/20 event is marking its 25th year on Saturday, and is expected to draw large crowds as it falls on a long weekend.

No permits have been issued for the event, however, organizers have argued that they have tried to get the required documents in the past, but were denied.

Larsen has given no indication that organizers plan to cancel the event’s headliner, despite Monday’s motion being passed by the Park Board.