Vancouver taxpayers regularly subsidize public booze parties that cost millions, yet city officials are trying to rouse anger against pot protestors for the meagre expense of their legalization rallies.
In Vancouver, the annual 4/20 rally has a peak crowd of about 25,000 and total attendance closer to 35,000. It has been attacked by city officials for supposedly costing the city $93,000.
Let's ignore for now that this figure is somehow more than what got spent on the entire Pride Parade ($67,000), an event that is far more massive and blocks off many more streets than 4/20, but whatever.
Even if we take this figure at face value, the fact is that 4/20 is a cheap event when compared to the beer gardens and booze-fests our city regularly subsidizes.
Heck, let's not even mention the city-sponsored official Stanley Cup party, where drunken hooligans did $3.7 million in property damage, and cost taxpayers another $2 million in new policing expenses, plus $7 million in salaries for police officers redeployed from other departments. (That kind of cash would cover Vancouver's pot rallies until the next century!)
Instead, let's look at more recent events, like the FIFA all-ages beer garden and fan zone, which Vancouver taxpayers just spent $1.2 million to install and operate. It held a maximum of 5,000 people at a time, with the entire site doubling as a giant beer-drinking area.
Now I'm all for celebrating and enjoying athletic achievement, but is more city-subsidized, free-flowing beer really needed at a family-oriented event in the downtown core?
After the Stanley Cup Beer Riot (which I know said I wouldn't mention but come on how can I resist) why is the city still promoting booze and sport as a winning combination?
And let's make sure I have this straight. While city councillors are freaked out over kids getting within 300 metres of a cannabis dispensary, they have no problem forcing underage soccer fans to watch the FIFA games with throngs of drunken adults?
There wasn't even a kid-friendly, no-beer zone inside the main area. If your teenage soccer-fan child wanted to attend this all-ages, $1.2-million, city-sponsored event to watch some soccer, she would have had no choice but to be surrounded by beer-drinkers on all sides!
By the way, the 12-day FIFA beer garden cost $100,000 each day, so if it was completely full with 5,000 adults and minors every single day, that's a taxpayer subsidy of $20 per person.
In comparison, our alcohol-free 4/20 celebration costs the city around $3 per attendee, a much better bong for their buck. So what's all the fuss about again?
Ah well. Gay Pride used to be controversial too, but nowadays every politician wants to be at the front of the parade. Maybe one day, we'll have Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's successor leading the 4:20 joint toss, and singing "Oh Cannabis" with the rest of us.
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