Opinions: Vancouver, the ‘no-safe’ city

Vancouver, the ‘no-safe’ city

The minimalist lifestyle should not apply to nightlife security in Vancouver

Rachel D’Sa // Arts and Culture Editor

The plea for an extension of bar hours in Vancouver isn’t a new issue. The city has garnered the label as the “city of no-fun” largely due to the early shutdown of bars, clubs and transit. Vancouver prides itself on its diversity, yet provides less than acceptable safety measures for those looking to experience it. In Vancouver, 3 a.m. is flood time. Mass amounts of people are required to leave establishments, additionally leaving them stranded in the dark streets competing with strangers to get a safe ride home. Rather than pushing for an increase in late-night public transportation and ride-hailing options, Vancouver tries to act as a parental guardian, putting an ineffective curfew on the city.

On Jan. 27, 23-year-old nightclub worker Kalwinder Thind attempted to break up a brawl in the Cabana Lounge. Thind was tragically killed after being stabbed by one of the fighters.

Since the tragedy, the city has been working to find solutions to the lack of security and safety in the Granville Entertainment District. Vancouver City Councillor George Affleck has proposed a motion for larger patio space for restaurants, an increase in video surveillance and longer bar hours, but the motion is far from passing. Though the NPA councillor believes it will help reduce crime, the motion is likely to face opposing forces from a Vision Vancouver-run council.

At the moment, the only recent solution offered has been the formation of the Granville Entertainment District Safety and Security Working Group. The committee works to address issues of crime and safety and includes Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association CEO Charles Gauthier, Vancouver Police, Vancouver Coastal Health, Bar Watch, among others. Though an attempt to piece together the entertainment community, the committee hasn’t been addressing issues as quickly as they should, continuing to leave the district in the dark.

While the ‘fun’ essentially happens inside of establishments, the city has yet to recognize that it isn’t primarily the bars and clubs and what happens inside them that is the problem. When bar and club patrons are forced out on to the streets all at once, it can cause problems. Besides the fact most of the people are likely intoxicated, people in groups make bad decisions. There’s a reason for the phrase “mob mentality.” All of a sudden the shelter with bouncers and managers and fellow party-goers suddenly dissipates from around them, and so do boundaries.

Without the watchful eyes of cameras and witnesses, the sky’s the limit outside of establishments. Small fights that were picked and pulled apart inside of clubs become open to the side streets, hidden to the police. Vulnerable individuals can be followed by predators leaving establishments at the same time. With limited transportation, there is the possibility of strangers hailing the same taxi, posing the threat of sexual harassment. The incorporation of ridesharing services like Evo also enables the possibility of drunk driving.

While the city fights these situations by reporting that they cannot afford to continuously run transit, such as the SkyTrain lines, it misses the mark in terms of bringing security to its population. Vancouver has earned itself the ‘no-fun’ title. I think it’s time for us to recognize that the city is in need of another title – ‘not safe.’

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