Political proclaiming one day, police convention the next

Mysterious incident happened the day after major mental illness, addiction funding announcement

British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson appeared before the media on Nov. 20, 2013 to announce millions of dollars of emergency funding to combat severe addiction and mental illness. One advocate said the planned 120-day rollout didn’t go far enough.

Lake (left) and Robertson announce mental illness funding Nov. 20, 2013. (via Mayor's Office Instagram)
Nov. 20, 2013: Lake (left) and Robertson announce mental illness funding. (Mayor’s Office Instagram)

The news conference, at the Premier’s Vancouver Office in Canada Place, came two months after Vancouver Police Board chair Robertson and Chief Jim Chu declared a mental health emergency in Vancouver and appealed for provincial funding. Robertson stepped up his pressure for provincial funding when he struck a civc task force on Oct. 30, 2013.

VPD military-style vehicle outside Canada Place during Nov. 21, 2013 incident.
Nov. 21, 2013: Military-style police vehicle near Premier’s Vancouver Office.

The day after Lake and Robertson appeared together, on Nov. 21, 2013, the building where the news conference happened was surrounded by two dozen emergency response vehicles for five hours. Const. Brian Montague, a VPD spokesman, said police were dealing with a “distraught man in his (Pan Pacific) hotel room.” The man was apparently alone and was no danger to others. No other details were released.

The turnout of police vehicles was an impressive collection of empty and haphazardly parked marked and unmarked vehicles. Even the military-style armoured vehicle was parked right in front of the lobby to the World Trade Centre, where the Premier’s office is located. Other areas of the city likely went without regular police coverage for several hours, because of so many resources directed to the Pan Pacific Hotel. I witnessed one police officer carry a rifle to his vehicle parked near the Waterfront Centre hotel; I was unable to confirm whether it belonged to the police or if it had been seized from the subject of the standoff.

Not a surprise that police would treat a downtown hotel incident so seriously after a string of high-profile matters, some of which made international news headlines. On July 13, 2013, Glee star Cory Monteith was found dead of a mix of heroin and alcohol in a room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim. On Oct. 15, 2012, a standoff with a distraught man happened at the same hotel. The United States Olympic women’s soccer team was, thankfully, in a yoga session at the Wall Centre Sheraton Hotel when a gangland execution of Sandip Duhre happened in the lobby on Jan. 18, 2012.

As you can see from below, the information released by the B.C. Ambulance Service about the Nov. 21, 2013 Canada Place incident via Freedom of Information was scant and heavily redacted for privacy reasons. VPD’s FOI office refused to release information, citing exemptions that protect third-party personal information and operational law enforcement records.

Do you have information about this incident? Are you a hotel worker in Vancouver concerned about workplace health, safety and security? Please contact me in confidence: bob (at) bobmackin (dot) ca

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