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Vancouver Website, Thisisourvancouver.com, Launch Aims To Clean City's Image

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THE CANADIAN PRESS -- VANCOUVER -- Tourism Vancouver is hoping to polish the city's tarnished reputation following the violent riot that erupted after the Stanley Cup final.

Images of vandals tearing through the downtown core, smashing windows, burning cars and assaulting Good Samaritans have been broadcast around the world since the Vancouver Canucks' loss last Wednesday to the Boston Bruins.

As police continue their investigation and residents demand answers about how it happened, Tourism Vancouver has launched the website, www.thisisourvancouver.com.

"The actions of a few aren't a true reflection of our city," says the website, which features an ever-revolving array of positive comments, photos and videos posted by members of the public.

"Many people have reached out to help clean up our streets, commend Good Samaritans and help restore our community. Positive messages have been popping up on boards all over downtown."

One expert has estimated the melee cost Vancouver millions of dollars in property damage and billions of dollars of damage to its international reputation.

Tourism officials hope gushing good news will counter the negative media attention the city received internationally.

"Our intention of getting involved with this was really good will," said Amber Sessions, manager of travel media relations Tourism Vancouver.

"From Tourism Vancouver's perspective, we know that our image around the world has been somewhat tarnished in the past week. You know, certainly, we spend our energy trying to get Vancouver in the news around the world for being beautiful and friendly and welcoming, and a great travel destination, and we were on all the front pages for all the wrong reasons last week."

Sessions said the website went live on Sunday.

By Monday afternoon, the website boasted photos of the boarded up store windows after the riot, known as apology walls because of the hand-written notes and drawings, as well as images of iconic Vancouver spots such as Granville Island.

Sessions said the website will operate as long as people are interested.

Vancouver Police say they've have arrested about 117 people so far for breach of peace, public intoxication, breach of probation, assault, mischief, theft, possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer.

Police have also received about 3,500 emails from the public, which include 53 attached videos, 676 links to YouTube, 708 images and 1,011 hyperlinks to help identify rioters.

There has been an outpouring of public disgust over the riot, and many of the rioters are also being identified by friends and acquaintances in photos posted on a number of websites. In some cases, addresses and personal information are also being posted for all to see.

In at least once case, a young athlete has gone public to apologize after photos went viral showing what appears to be him trying to light a police car on fire.

Const. Lindsey Houghton says police are aware of but don't condone websites that include vigilantes' postings.

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