Skip to content

Collaboration key in keeping Canuck viewing parties family-friendly

Vancouver is planning smaller, neighbourhood gatherings for Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs
A police officer runs past debris and fires after rioters burned police cars after the Vancouver Canucks were defeated by the Boston Bruins in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday June 15, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver police will continue to have a large presence during home games as Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs begins Wednesday evening at Rogers Arena.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the Canuck fans. We couldn’t be prouder of the behaviour that they have shown in all the games so far. The majority of people are celebrating safely and responsibly,” Const. Tania Visintin said during a joint Vancouver Police Department and Metro Vancouver Transit Police news conference Wednesday morning (May 8).

Visintin said Vancouver officers issued between 20 and 30 tickets for misbehaviour tied to each home game in the first round against the Nashville Predators. There were three home games. She said tickets included liquor offences, disorder and rowdy behaviour.

“That type of behaviour, it really just ruins it for all fans that are trying to enjoy it, especially the families that are there.”

Visintin reminded people to either consume alcohol at home or at a licensed location.

“We’ve seen from the past that public intoxication also contributes to very rowdy, risky behaviour, like climbing statues, fights, a lot more violent (behaviour). This behaviour is dangerous, incites a crowd and contributes to further disorder.”

It’s been nearly 13 years since riots broke out in downtown Vancouver after the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals. There were also riots when the Canucks lost in 1994, also in Game 7.

Rylan Simpson, assistant professor with Simon Fraser University’s School of Criminology, said events like these “all involve a balance of risk.” He said collaboration is important, and it’s up to the city, police and other stakeholders to manage that risk.

“I think it just was a matter of how each individual person interprets both their role at the event, whether they’re there, for example, to have a fun and family friendly viewing of the Canucks game, or whether they’re there to potentially elicit trouble.”

But Simpson said it comes down to policing style, and what he’s seen so far this season is very positive messaging about what their role is in managing the gatherings.

“We’re seeing communication from the police that the purpose of police presence is to provide a feeling of safety, to be a point of contact for anyone in need of assistance, as well as provide an opportunity for almost a meet-and-greet with officers to take photographs and to engage in dialogue that would try to bolster a positive atmosphere, while simultaneously maintaining safety at these gatherings.”

He said it’s also a reflection of what the public expects from police in a contemporary era – and high-visibility vests can be one type of intervention to help.

“A high visibility vest on that officer, the public tends to perceive them as more approachable, more friendly, more respectful, more accountable, less aggressive.

The Vancouver Canucks will be hosting the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday and Friday before heading to Edmonton on Sunday and Tuesday.

READ MORE: Canuck fans to get public viewing parties — but far from Vancouver’s downtown

The City of Vancouver announced round two viewing events, but not until Sunday’s away game. At Oak Meadows Park, in the north end of Oak Street and W 37th Avenue, a viewing area will be set up to accommodate 2,000 people. Select community centres across the city will also show the game in their lobbies to give people a chance to gather with their neighbours.

Visintin said Vancouver police support the smaller, neighbourhood viewing areas, which are “more conducive to maintaining public safety.”

“We know these large, fan-based zones in the downtown core, it just wouldn’t work. It hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work this time.”

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
Read more