Budget to police partiers poorly funded: VPD
Vancouver Police patrol Water St. in Gastown, Vancouver, B.C. on Friday September 27, 2013. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)
Vancouver police report their liquor enforcement section is underfunded by 25% despite large budget increases designed to ensure safe weekend partying.
That means hundreds of thousands in additional funding would be needed to bolster a liquor blitz budget that already reached $995,000 last year — up from about $500,000 in 2007 — according to a year-end report.
“If we don’t have the resources to police it appropriately, then yes, of course there’s a concern that you’re going to get more of the alcohol-fuelled disturbances, more assaults, more sexual assaults, more fights — more of what we’re seeing already,” police spokesman Const. Brian Montague said Wednesday.
According to the police business plan report, the lack of proper funding equaled fewer officers in the Granville entertainment area and reduced road closures — done as a safety measure to allow intoxicated pedestrians onto the roads.
“We don’t want people, especially intoxicated people, falling into traffic or getting pushed into traffic accidently. Having more space between individuals in the area also prevents some of the disturbances and fights that take place,” Montague said.
“But we have to have enough officers deployable to make sure those street closures are done.”
The report found street disorder in the district that covers Gastown’s entertainment area increased by 9% in 2013, while disorder in the downtown core remained relatively unchanged.
Montague said the force is constantly “juggling” resources between different departments to fill enforcement gaps.
He said one factor is that Vancouver’s entertainment districts serve the entire Lower Mainland.
“We’re dealing with well over a million people all the time,” Montague said. “We are the core of the Lower Mainland. This is where people come to work, to play and be entertained.”