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Future outdoor festivities still on track in Vancouver

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and B.C. Premier Christy Clark look over messages of support on a board used to cover up a broken widow in Vancouver June 16, 2011.

JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Premier Christy Clark stood together on the shattered streets of Vancouver after the Stanley Cup riot and defiantly promised the city won't give up its large street celebrations despite a night of mayhem that left 50 businesses damaged and looted.

More than 200 windows were smashed, stores were gutted of merchandise and cars burned after the Canucks' defeat in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, tarnishing the image Vancouver earned during the Olympics as a city that knows how to party peacefully.

But Mr. Robertson and Ms. Clark said Vancouver can't be defined or have its future narrowed by the actions of a few, and they vowed that Vancouver won't change course by giving in to what the Premier called "a small number of hardcore criminals."

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The Celebration of Light fireworks event, which often draws more than 100,000 people to English Bay each summer, and the Grey Cup, which is expected to fill BC Place stadium with 50,000 football fans in November, will go ahead, the two political leaders promised.

"We are not going to back off and give our city over to a bunch of losers … we are not going to let them change our plans to gather in big numbers and celebrate who we are," Mr. Robertson said.

"We have an incredible track record with the 2010 Olympics. For this small group of people to trash our reputation as a city is absurd. It does not define who we are as Vancouver," he said before touring the damaged shopping district, where groups of volunteers were helping city crews clean up.

"I think [most]people were down here to have a good time last night, but that group of troublemakers at the core of it, the hoodlums that started the problem and then incited some others to get involved, were really what the issue was," he said.

"If, as citizens of Vancouver, we decide we aren't going to be outdoors we're going to stop celebrating - then they win," Ms. Clark said. "They define us. And this city belongs to us. It doesn't belong to them."

She urged the public to send any pictures they have of the riots to Vancouver Police.

"If you were a part of this, and I'm speaking to people who may have been responsible last night, I promise you this: You won't be able to live in anonymity, you won't be behind your bandana or under your hoodie. We are going to do everything we can to make sure the public understands who you were. Your family, your friends, your employer will know you were a part of it. Because this cannot happen in our city," Ms. Clark said.

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She added that there are lessons to be learned from the riot, but locking the city down and urging people to stay home, as was done in Boston, is not the answer.

"Boston, you know, they may have, when it comes to public celebrations, thrown in the towel, but we aren't doing that," Ms. Clark said. "We are not going to give up our streets to some hard core group of criminals … this city belongs to us. We're going to keep it."

But not everyone agreed with that approach.

Just across the street, John Revington, superintendent of Bonnis Properties, watched work crews repairing his building, which is home to Future Shop.

"The damage I've got this morning is horrendous. And I've got to fix it [and]nobody gives us any money to do that," he said of the $15,000 to $20,000 in broken glass. "If I never saw another Stanley Cup in Vancouver I'd be happy."

Bill Galine, who works in the mining industry, looked on in disgust.

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"I'd like to know where they live, round them up and send them to Afghanistan," he said of the rioters. "You can fix the glass, but I don't know how you repair the damage to the city."

Down the street, at Sterling shoe store, Scott Schenkey was surrounded by nearly empty shelves as he swept up piles of glass. Next to him lay an elegant, white leather woman's shoe, smeared with blood.

He estimated $50,000 to $100,000 in damages and looted goods.

But Mr. Schenkey was trying to focus on the positives. Outside, volunteers were cleaning the sidewalk. Others had brought him cookies.

"The best part is all the good people," he said.

Ed Roche, sales manager at 24 Hour Glass Ltd., said his company put up 200 to 300 sheets of plywood over broken windows.

An overall damage estimate wasn't available on Thursday.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More

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