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‘You wonder why the public is upset?’ Riot revisited at City Hall

The public finally got a chance to say something to politicians about the Stanley Cup riot on Sept. 6.

Yes, there was an email address and post office box open for almost a month, but provincial reviewers John Furlong and Doug Keefe did not see fit to directly quote from any of the 85 letters they received.

One of those who attended the meeting at Vancouver city hall was David McKay, who voiced the frustration of many citizens.

“This is supposed to be a public meeting and we've had to sit through two hours and not learn a thing before anybody who represents the public can actually step up,” McKay said. “I've got some key words for you: fatuous, vacuous, naive, incompetent, irresponsible. That describes everybody in this room that had anything to do with this... I'll throw in another couple of words: alcohol and denial.

“People want to talk all around the issue. Alcohol is a legal drug. Hockey is a violent game, we allow people to drink publicly, we don't put any stops on them taking over the city.

“The lunatics take over the asylum with the permission of the authorities, and all the people who should be controlling the lunatics in the asylum wring their hands and say ‘it wasn't me, I had nothing to do with this.

“You wonder why the public is upset?”

McKay proceeded to read a letter to the editor written by a citizen to one of Vancouver’s daily newspapers:

“Point one: somebody invited people downtown to watch the Canuck/Bruins hockey game.

“Point two: somebody provided jumbo TV screens for the people to see the games.

“Point three: somebody did not provide for the safety and security for all those people who were invited downtown.

“Ask yourself: Who did that and see what kind of answers you come up with? No expensive studies are required! “It's time for the Mayor to get out of the Olympic party mode and get to work running the city.

“I rest my case.”

The report to city council recommended drawing $1 million from the city’s rainy day fund to balance the $1,968,613 bill for the fan zone and the riot aftermath.

That’s a million dollars that can’t be used in case of disaster. A million dollars that can’t be put toward the mayor’s goal of housing all the homeless by 2015.

The report said half the cost was already absorbed in existing departmental budgets -- which is another way of saying other spending priorities were sacrificed.

The meeting featured the predictable, short preview of this fall’s mayoral debate.

Coun. Suzanne Anton, the NPA challenger, pressed Vision Vancouver’s Robertson to reveal who ultimately was in charge on June 15. Robertson wouldn’t take the bait or the blame.

Anton: “My questions are to you, Mr. Mayor, when will you accept accountability? You are the Mayor and the buck stops at your desk...when will the public hear from you?

Robertson: “I have said I am responsible for public safety in Vancouver.”

Anton further grilled the mayor, saying that “all reports agree that fan zones were a problem and were set up by your office against the advice of the police.”

Robertson: “You’re making allegations that are not correct, not true... fan zones were implemented by a staff committee.”

Bob Mackin covered the Stanley Cup riot for the New York Times and writes about sports business and city hall politics for The Tyee and others.

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