Vancouver police deployed extra officers in Vancouver's entertainment district on New Year's Eve, and they responded to 34 calls related to the ‘Gathering and Events’ order from the Provincial Health Officer.
However, officers only issued four tickets--for $2,300 each--out of the 34 calls they responded to that night.
In one instance, Vancouver police shut down a private party at a restaurant downtown that they say had around 100 people in attendance.
That said, the owners of the restaurant, Cold Tea--a modern Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant located on Granville at Davie, say the VPD "grossly exaggerated" this figure.
In its media release issued Jan. 1, 2021, the VPD states that officers responded to a call around 11 p.m. about a private, closed-door party at the restaurant.
Officers estimate that approximately 100 people were in attendance, and food and alcohol were being served. However, Vancouver bars and restaurants were prohibited from serving alcohol after 8 p.m. on New Year Year's Eve.
The other three tickets issued in Vancouver on New Year's Eve
VPD Cst. Tania Visintin tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that police issued three other tickets related to public health orders--but that they were all at residential properties.
When asked why none of the other 30 calls resulted in fines, Visintin says that most calls resulted in noise complaints or "parties that had already dispersed by the time officers got there."
Visintin would not provide any additional details about the three residential fines that officers handed out.
Why Vancouver police didn't shut down the anti-mask 'protest'
A large crowd of anti-mask demonstrators gathered outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on New Year's Eve to protest the B.C. government restrictions related to COVID-19--but police didn't shut down the gathering.
In an email, VPD Cst. Tania Visintin tells V.I.A. that police prepare for hundreds of events, protests, and demonstrations in Vancouver every year. She adds that this group had a right to protest, just like anyone else.
"Public safety is always our priority," she explained. "Our officers support people’s right to peaceful protest because it is their democratic right-- whether or not they agree with what is being protested."
When asked why the VPD didn't shut down the protest, Visintin said that Vancouver Police officers exercise their discretion in the enforcement of public health orders.
"They must weigh a citizen’s right to peacefully protest with the current potential harm of gatherings," she says.
"Mass arrests are not possible or desirable. Ticketing and arrests could escalate an already passionate situation, and when there are larger groups of people, the risk of injury to both protestors and police officers rises."