What’s really behind the City of Vancouver’s rush to disband Occupy Vancouver’s camp from the bark mulch and concrete of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s north plaza?
Grey Cup Festival organizers fear protesters could disrupt the Nov. 26 Grey Cup parade and embarrass a major sponsor. The B.C. Supreme Court granted an injunction that allows police to evict protesters if they don’t remove tents and structures from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s north plaza by 2 p.m. Nov. 21.
No Grey Cup events were planned for the VAG plaza, where the protest began Oct. 15, and the Saturday morning parade route uses Burrard Street. There is no intelligence that such a protest would happen and Occupy Vancouver has not made a public statement against the Grey Cup festival or its sponsors. But a source involved with the 99th Grey Cup game organization indicated that nobody wants to risk embarrassing Scotiabank.
The Occupy movement’s protest targets have included banks. In Vancouver, locations of TD Canada Trust and RBC have been protest sites. Occupy protesters have also picketed against Enbridge, the company that wants to build a pipeline between the Alberta tarsands and coastal British Columbia to carry oil for export to Asia. Aboriginals opposed to the proposed pipeline attended the Scotiabank annual general meeting in Halifax last April. A Yinka Dene Alliance news release claimed Scotiabank raised $10 billion for Enbridge.
The newly re-elected Vision Vancouver-dominated city council enacted restrictive measures before the 2010 Winter Olympics to protect VANOC sponsors. No similar bylaws are in place for the Grey Cup. Mayor Gregor Robertson and his opponent Coun. Suzanne Anton are among the Grey Cup Committee members.
Planning for the Grey Cup Festival has been complicated by the ugly legacy of the June 15, 2011 Stanley Cup riot. The 1966 Grey Cup parade was a night-time affair and revelers rioted with Vancouver Police and RCMP outside the Hotel Georgia and courthouse (now the art gallery).
Freedom of Information requests for agendas and minutes of the large events oversight committee, central management team and Grey Cup committee have been denied in-full by the City of Vancouver.
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.