Vancouver Province Column: This Canada Day, let’s hope that the young and restless show some class

The Province
Friday, June 29, 2007

The beginning of summer marks the arrival of cheery festivals and outdoor parties to the Lower Mainland — a time when folks can indulge in the best of music, recreation and exotic foods, while soaking up the sunshine.

This being Greater Vancouver, however, there’s often a dark side to the good times, in the form of belligerent and violent drunks.

The efforts made to police these rowdies are not only a drag on taxpayers, they’re an embarrassment to the community.

So why is it that, year after year, we continue to tolerate the same adolescent antics?

If they don’t want to shape up, let’s fold up the tents, turn off the barbeques and sound systems — and send everyone home.

Summer’s too short to put up with the ongoing babysitting and policing of these sloshed brats.

Case in point: any event involving fireworks.

What is it about pyrotechnics that brings out the goons?

Every summer, it seems, our world-renowned HSBC Celebration of Light is marred by a handful of testosterone-fuelled thugs parading through the West End with clenched fists and even weapons.

It’s the same story for Canada Day festivities. Four years ago, the Canada Place fireworks show was cancelled after a spectator was stabbed.

Organizers are courageously reviving the event this year. But there’s no guarantee that the ultimate warriors and suburban cowboys won’t be back Sunday to spoil the night for all.

Whether it’s rioting at rock concerts or after hockey games, the penchant for antisocial behaviour is nothing new for this city.

In the 2005 book, Reading the Riot Act, author Michael Barnholden documents Vancouver’s long tradition of public mischief.

And one thing becomes clear: While the riots of a century ago were grounded in dead-serious racial and labour issues, today’s

mayhem is mostly the doing of the young and pathetically restless.

But tolerance for this debauchery is running low these days. And municipal leaders seem willing to shut down or kill support for the festivities permanently if they become overrun by slobbering drunks.

In 2005, a North Shore tradition called the Hose Reel Festival — organized by firefighters in the City of North Vancouver — was cancelled after the local government gave the thumbs-down to a 2,000-person beer garden.

That was a shame, since the event raised funds for charity.

But city officials there couldn’t come to grips with escalating police costs to deal with the usual fights, assaults, and drunk-driving offences.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, other summer party traditions in the Lower Mainland may also find themselves on thin ice, if the usual suspects can’t keep a check on their behaviour. And Vancouver can once again moan about its “no fun” reputation once again.

Have a happy and stress-free Canada Day.

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Filed under British Columbia, Culture, Law and Order, Sports, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns

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