The Vancouver Park Board announced today that they will close Sunset Beach Park for up to five weeks to allow the field to recover from The Vancouver 420 event in Sunset Beach, while a representative of the event says the Park Board is playing politics and being untruthful.
The Park Board says they will be seeking to recoup costs to repair the damage to the grass and ground during the event, and claim the organizers failed to lay down a "turf protector." Organizers say they are open to helping with the cost of repairing damage, but that no such requests or promises were made in regard to the turf protector.
"The field is in rough shape and muddy with lots of rutting, holes and dips so staff will need to aerate, over seed and top dress it before it can be used again," said Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe in a press release. "Organizers of the 4/20 event had indicated they would install a turf protector, but failed to do so. The Board will make every effort to recoup repair costs from organizers."
Dana Larsen, an organizer for the event, agrees that the field is indeed wet and muddy after the event and is looking into helping the Park Board recoup the costs to reseed the area, but he says the city's claim that the 4/20 event had agreed to lay down plywood to protect the grass is "simply not true."
"First of all, you can't lay down plywood at an event like this," says Larsen. "It would not protect the grass, it would still cause it to be damaged, and it would be a real safety hazard having people walking around on chunks of plywood in large numbers. It gets very slippery and lots of tripping."
"We had hours and hours and hours of extensive meetings with park rangers, with VPD, with emergency services and paramedics, with the archeologist they have to make sure we don't damage any archeological things in the park. Hours and hours of these conversations. We discussed the possibility of rain and of damage to the park. Putting down plywood boards was never requested or suggested. That would be a terrible idea."
"If it was as simple as laying down a few sheets of plywood, we would have done that."
A Park Board representative was not immediately available to speak on record at time of press.
Larsen says the organizers spent considerable time with different agencies discussing issues surrounding the event and how to mitigate possible damage from the weather, and he is frustrated by what he says is the Park Board trying to play politics with an event they have always opposed on ideological grounds.
"They [Park Board] actually voted to forbid any cannabis event from any park in the city, ever. So that means that while they say it's all about Sunset Beach, that's not what they voted for. They voted to keep us out of any park in the city. That to me shows it's not about the specific location, it's about them only wanting to give out licenses for alcohol events but not wanting to give out a license for a cannabis event."
Larsen says the event this year likely broke even, similar to last year when it lost about $3,000 dollars after all expenses.
"It costs about $150,000 to put on this event, and that's about what we generate in booth sales and banners and promotions and that kind of stuff. The costs are taken up by things like building the stage, bringing in the porta-potties, we pay for ambulance crews, we pay for paramedics and first aid crews, we give out a lot of free water and snacks and maintain our own first aid booth, we pay for the ground to get scanned by an archeologist, which is actually quite expensive.
"It is not a money making event and requires hundreds if not thousands of cumulative volunteer hours to make it a success."
Featured image via Vancouver Park Board.