EXCLUSIVE: Did City Hall management actually read their own '94 riot reports?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


See: Review of the Management of Large Events in the City of Vancouver 1994-10-31

A lot has been written lately regarding the BC Police Commission's 1994 report regarding the Stanley Cup riot that took place in Downtown Vancouver. The report made a series of recommendations regarding how to prevent future riots. It focused mainly on the role of the Vancouver Police Department.

What few people know is two separate reports were also written by the City of Vancouver regarding their role in the '94 riot. The report was co-authored by former city employee Patti Marfleet. She is now currently a member of the Vancouver Police Board along with Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Before I get into the details of the report, I have to wonder whether anyone on the City's senior management team even read it. Were they even aware of its existence? It's a fair question given the fact that Mayor Robertson has either fired or pushed out almost the entire senior management team in the last 2.5 years. A trusted internal source tells me "there's only a 5% chance that anyone in the upper echelons of City Hall even know the report exists, let alone use it in their planning for last week's melee."

As for the report, it makes a number of key recommendations including:

  • Establish a new Emergency Management Committee (EMC) comprising of a small group of City officials including City Manager, Police and Fire Chiefs and City Engineer. It was also recommended that the General Manager of the Park Board also be included for strategic reasons.
  • The EMC be responsible for anticipating unhosted gatherings. Once anticipated, committee members would make the decision to either encourage the gathering and invoke the management strategies outlined in the report, or discourage it altogether.
  • City officials must take a LEAD role in coordinating management strategies to avert trouble. To a large extent the strategies involve planning an "alternate event" providing the crowd with well managed activities and entertainment.
  • It was recommended that the EMC has overall responsibility for identification of such events and for triggering the preventative strategies. The Police Department would be one of the players.
  • Problems at large gatherings are minimized when "attractors" such as food and entertainment are used to draw and disperse crowds voluntarily. The general sentiment was that people should not be permitted to gather in a large crowd without something to do.
  • Event Planning Strategy: The lead agency should be the Social Planning Department. To document how potential entertainment and activities should be planned and geographically located so as to draw and disperse large crowds; to document information about possible venues, equipment requirements, optimal number and size of crowd, etc.
  • Transportation Management Strategy: The lead agency should be the Engineering Department.
  • Communication Strategy: The lead agency should be the Communications Department. To document a plan for promoting a "celebrate safely" theme in advance of the anticipated gathering and at expected feeder sites.
  • Security Strategy: The lead agency should be the Vancouver Police.

The report also states:

  • On June 28, 1994, Council approved terms of reference and budget for a review of the management of large events in the city.
  • The city's review was NOT intended to focus on police response issues, but rather to look at what the city and community can do in advance of anticipated gatherings.
  • Most believed that the city (and its various departments) were in the best position to anticipate and manage a large gathering on public property and should take on that responsibility.
  • Unlike most other large gatherings on public property, the 1994 hockey gatherings had no sponsor or promoter. In effect," it belonged to no one."

A background report which accompanied the main report focused on the anatomy of a riot. It describes the role of the media, and the dynamics of bringing a lot of people together in a confined area. It should have been a must read for Vancouver City officials planning last week's Game 7 event. The report states:

The location of an event is very important. Events held within a facility are usually the easiest to control as facilities have distinct boundaries and the crowd may be more easily contained...In addition to a plan, some basic crowd management principles can prevent most problem situations from arising. 

Outdoor events can be more problematic. In many cases, such as Robson Street, the site is not enclosed or restricted in any manner and site containment can be a major problem. Without specified access points, it is very easy for an event at an open site to get out of control as it is difficult to check for alcohol and control attendance and there is no way to evict people from the site.

One of the more interesting observations in the report related to crowd management:

At any special event, there is an added concern: that of keeping the crowd busy. There is a greater potential for trouble when people mill about aimlessly (I recommend our readers check out this incredible video demonstration to see what the authors were talking about).

Most riots are preceded by a period of "milling around." Although the crowd seems to be aimlessly moving about during this period, its members are really exchanging rumours and facts and building up the energy and courage necessary for mob action.

I have a lot of questions after reading both of these reports. Here are a few of them:

  1. Did city officials follow the recommendations in their own '94 report? Did the Mayor or his staff?
  2. Did the Mayor and/or City management even read the reports?
  3. Jim Chu is on the hot seat for his role in the June 15th operations, but is Penny Ballem and her team being held accountable for their role?
  4. Was the Emergency Management Committee set up and coordinated? If so, how often did it meet and can we see a copy of the plan/minutes?
  5. Did the City just leave most of the riot preparations up to the police?
  6. If there was an EMC, wouldn't it have made sense for the City Manager to have read the BC Police Commission report into the 1994 riots BEFORE last week's chaos?
  7. Why were no "alternate" events planned to help disperse the crowd and keep them "active"?
  8. Why were no volunteers recruited to help in the management of the crowd?
  9. Why did Patti Marfleet, author of the report, not raise significant issues at the Police Board meetings?
  10. The Vancouver Sun reports the most recent Police Board meeting ended an hour early with no discussion of CBC Fan Zone security. Why?

There are so many other questions that arise from these two reports, but I'll get to those in the coming days. For now, I hope our readers take the time to read both of them, and ensure that we hold our public officials accountable for the events of last week. Otherwise, we're simply bound to repeat our mistakes – again.

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/citycaucus.


I see one of the biggest problem as g (when all the games ended at 8 p.m.) what were the plans for the very,very large groups of people that remained on the streets?
The bars and restaurants were full every game night.The Granville Entertainment District is full every weekend anyway.

I don't about the rest of you but I can't imagine when I was 20 or so watching an exciting game that I would have rushed home at 8 after wards.

All those people milling around and around and around.Intoxicated (many of them), pumped up most of them.

Recipe for disaster.

I see the big problem as mentioned (when all the games ended at 8 p.m.) what were the plans for the very,very large groups of people that remained on the streets?
The bars and restaurants were full every game night.The Granville Entertainment District is full every weekend anyway.

I don't know about the rest of you but I can't imagine when I was 20 or so watching an exciting game that I would have rushed home at 8 after wards.

All those people milling around and around and around.Intoxicated (many of them), pumped up (most of them).

Recipe for disaster.

BAD location.

Said it the first time I heard about it. I'm sure even on here.
It's why I was concerned from the start.

Incredible. So, basically they did just about EVERYTHING wrong.

Why hasn't the NPA hired Alise Mills to be their spokesangel yet? She can kick serious BCNDP butt, turn n burn and restore law & order.

Frankly, I want Gregor to breathe very heavy now until Vancouver Election Day and wake up to a Vancouver Sun that is blonde, stilletto heeled and not happy. I want Gregor to have dinner watching Alise Mills do to HIM what she does for blood sport every Saturday @ 1630 Hours on CKNW to BCNDP MLAs - namely frame them, define them and defuse them.

It's time to kick the tires and light the fires... the BCLiberal way!

The other report is VPD's own review of the riot. The Justice Institute holds a copy, but it is in circulation.


Good work pulling all of this together. Municipal governments need to have good institutional memories - something that seems to be lacking here. Hope there is an inquiry, but more importantly, that you hold people to following the results of the inquiry - the media needs to have a good memory too!

Government reports are meant to be written, not read.

does this make anyone wonder what else they do not read before making a decision?

Add in political bias and a lack of familiarity with the subject at hand by Councillors and I am starting to think we are lucky things are not even worse!

What is lost on all Vision/ mayor/ Ballem and city staff is that we live in a big city and not in a redneck community in the northern Yukon (no pun intended)
When you concentrate all your efforts on chicken coops, on bike lanes, community gardens, wheat lawns, bee hives...Jesus, I have to stop and read this for a moment,it feels like reading from the Agriculture Today journal...add to that throwing lots and lots of money at free parties... Christ, it is amazing they even have time to go to work! Nobody reads anything these days at the Hall because, it is clear to all of us, they (Vision/ Gregor/Hollyhock) have one Solomon agenda and we (Vancouver) have different needs, that are not listed on that agenda. 1+1=2 simple like that! Go figure.

Off topic, but hey...

So this ad was posted on Craig's List earlier today - you would think that after what just happened the biking community would exercise a little respect....(especially since they suck up taxpayer dollars)


Critical Mass tonight at 5pm we meet at the Art Gallery (The only requirement you need is a bike)

Date: 2011-06-24, 10:47AM PDT
Reply to:
[Errors when replying to ads?]

Come out and help support the critical mass tonight and have fun pissing off the motorist while riding your bike and if the motorist starts yelling at you telling you to get the fuck off the road just ride up by his car and punch him in the face because you have the right to be on the road just like the other guy.... See you there

Location: The only requirement you need is a bike
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Let's not forget this about police: they form about 0.15% of the population, and they couldn't deliver - at least given their one-quarter grab of the City budget - public safety even if they wanted to. Take away the worthless "specialty units" and over-management at VPD, and you have 600 "response team" (patrol officers). Given shift arrangements and assuming a 10% (it has been as high as 30% at some services) off-duty (sickness, vacation, bereavement leave, etc) rate, that leaves about 1 cop per 7,000 Vancouverites. Hence, the long response times. Chu - with co-dependents, Ballem and Robertson (all at over $300,000 per year) - is running a 9-5 briefcase entity, which offers little value to his wage-payers. Hence the orchestrated "sticky-note" colouration of VPD as Duddley Do-Rights.

As for the riot preparation, unit expectations are spelled out in VPD's "procedures manual" (see website). And there are 4 planning and review sources of data on the 1994 riots. I have copies of all but the Operations Auxilliary Sections' "Operational Plan." However, VPD quotes from same in their report on the riot. Pre-riot they reported this, for implementation: "It is quite likely that the focus of any victory celebration would be in the Downtown Core on Robson Street...The potential for these celebrations to turn rowdy is very high. Information presently (unconfirmed) coming from School Liason Officers is that students will use this occasion to trash the City, in particular Robson Street." After same, 2 day training sessions became compulsory of police, and riot gear (costs would now total over $1000 per officer) was made available for crowd control. In 2011, choke-point and crowd-splitting techniques weren't used until the crowd had largely dispersed. In one apt pic, taken after the incident subsided, a man was photographed posing in front of two Riot cops; his Tshirt says, "I JUST CAME FOR THE RIOT." Ironically, Jim Chu was photographed in almost exactly the same spot, but at 7:43 PM. A giddy Penny Ballem - in a Canucks jersey - was videoed at Fanzone the day before (Alex T reports VPD leaks that Ballem directed police to protect "porta-potties." Apt prioritization.

It's always the same with anyone or any group that 'know' that they are right in all they do. They are absolutely closed to all that went before. They are the way, they are the truth and their 'new' ideas are the correct ones.

Now that they have been elected this self-importance in all things is now confirmed in their minds. Whatever that occurred or was thought before was wrong. That's why they were elected.

It's a very dangerous and immature posture.

The Thought of The Night

"'Maybe there is a beast....maybe it's only us.'"
William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Jack Vancouver,
great summary. I am glad to see that people are quietly and steadily, waking up to the realization that we are indeed living in a very dark novel.

Robertson, Ballem and their gang of Vision thugs will never give up the power peacefully.
They will have to be terminated.
And their severance packages shall reflect their contribution during their shameful term in office.
They should get Nothing.

They are the Flies. The real ones.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Max, your comment about Critical Mass is not really off-topic. This city has in recent history become a place where all kinds of bad behaviour and illegal activity is tolerated. The rioters just took it to the next level. The "broken windows" theory should be applied to all such behaviour.

Max that craigslist post should be forwarded to the VPD,they are advocating violence against car drivers.PS I can only hope im that driver:)

Check out BCWineLover.com!

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