On Scene

Happy crowds and laid-back police
March 01, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon

Monday, March 1, 2010

The game’s over. The Games are over. It’s Monday morning comin’  down from Sunday’s dramafest. Hockey fans across Canada rode the emotional roller coaster. In Vancouver, those who couldn’t afford a second mortgage to buy tickets from scalpers started lining up at the three major free viewing areas in downtown Vancouver at daybreak Sunday. Bars in the downtown core were jammed long before they could legally serve refreshments. As with the previous Canada-USA game, the streets were almost deserted when the puck was dropped.

USA boosters were practically non-existent. The few who were spotted on the street received the obligatory half-hearted razzing. Abe Lincoln was spotted crossing Robson and Granville early in the first period but he could have been the Maytag repair man for all the attention he drew.  

A couple of things caught my eye in the neighbourhood adjacent to GM Place. There were a lot more police on the street than previously and they were Vancouver police and RCMP.  Last weekend there had been lots of municipal police from across Canada out on the streets around GM Place as part of their Olympic duties. Sunday, it was all VPD and Mounties. They were all laid back and kibitzing with the crowd but they were all in groups of four or five.  Then there were the security fences that were in place around GM Place and BC Place Stadium next door. Once the hockey game was over, people weren’t able to linger. They had to move away from GM Place, because there were 60,000 people on their way into BC Place for the closing ceremonies.

Once the game was over, fans descended on the Robson and Granville axis by the thousands from all directions. It quickly became a crush and we didn’t waste any time leaving the area. Everybody was happy and having a good time but it was the sheer mass of humanity. Traffic on Georgia Street and several other downtown arties came to standstill as thousands of flag-waving, red-and-white clad celebrants spilled out from curb to curb and police were eventually forced to block off a number of additional blocks in the downtown.

Coupled with the crowd that left BC Place later, downtown Vancouver was pretty much shut down into the evening by the crush of bodies. Vancouver Police described the masses downtown as “the biggest crowd yet” and “generally well behaved”. Vancouver Fire & Rescue had a number of rigs pre-positioned in the downtown core, either as move-ups or extra units. BC Ambulance had extra units downtown along with bicycle teams and its Gator crew. Even so, it was slow going with the crush.

At one point in the evening, a two-alarm fire on the west side of Vancouver forced VFRS to pull some of the special-call apparatus out of downtown to provide fill-in on the west side.

As I wrote this, shortly before midnight, a quick peek at local TV news showed there were still thousands of people dancing in the streets.

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