Vancouver restaurants, bars rake in the cash, cities shovel it out

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VANCOUVER - Restaurants and bars in downtown Vancouver have been raking in the cash during the Canucks' unprecedented run toward the Stanley Cup.

But the party isn't coming cheap for the city, which has so far shelled out more than $1 million for showing everyone a good time by broadcasting the games on giant, outdoor screens and then for paying extra police to protect their safety.

Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, said Monday businesses selling food and alcohol in front of TV screens are cashing in.

"If you are in the food and beverage industry and you've got a TV screen and you're able to broadcast. . . then you are doing really well," said Gauthier.

"If you're in retail and it has nothing to do with Canucks...your sales have probably taken a bit of a dip."

Doug Devlin, marketing manager for Granville Island Brewing, said during the playoff's first round, beer sales went up about 20 per cent. By the beginning of the Stanley Cup final, he added, the sales had jumped by 40 to 45 per cent.

"We know what a lot of people are doing at five o'clock now on some of these weekdays, and it comes obviously at the expense of something else," he said.

Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said bars and restaurants around B.C. are benefiting from the playoffs as fans load up on food and drink during the games.

He said British Columbians may be spending between $1.5-million and $2 million every night the Canucks play a game.

The City of Vancouver is also spending.

The city is facing more than $1.3 million in bills for policing and entertainment costs associated with downtown celebration sites and TV screens.

The relatively incident-free parties have seen people of all ages coming for fun, but police have become increasingly concerned about the revelry.

While Vancouver police originally said they wouldn't close downtown liquor stores early—a tactic they employed during the 2010 Olympics—the force decided to do just that Monday night.

During the Olympics, Const. Jana McGuinness said police dumped out 1,800 containers of liquor on their worst night.

Last Friday, for Game 5, police in Vancouver and on the region's transit system, dumped out more than 3,000 bottles.

"The excitement level down here is really unbelievable you can just see it, it's just pumped down here," said McGuinness.

"It's a lot of fun down here, but with the amount of liquor we've seen, we know we need to stay on top of that."

There were hundreds of police offices on duty Monday night, and the Vancouver force called in extra help from neighbouring jurisdictions including the RCMP, West Vancouver, New Westminster and Port Moody forces.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is hoping the provincial and federal governments will help cover those costs.

"It would be nice if we had some support for our budget, but that's in their hands ... but hopefully they will come through with something," Robertson told reporters.

A city committee will decide Thursday whether or not it will pay for some of the festivities with $680,000 from its contingency reserve.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said if the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, the provincial government will help Vancouver pay for the celebration, but policing costs will be up to the city.

She couldn't yet say how much the province might contribute.

"We haven't gotten to that stage but we're working on that. We're crossing our fingers and hoping there will be a reason to spend a little bit of money," she told reporters Monday.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said the city hadn't made any request for a contribution and avoided committing to any funds.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA champions Dallas Mavericks, will pick up the tab for his team's victory parade, saying he didn't think it was right for the city to have to pay for it. Nobody from the Canucks organization was immediately available for comment about whether the team has been asked or is considering contributing to celebration costs.

B.C.'s second-largest city, Surrey, is also facing some growing fees.

Tara Foslien, a city spokesperson, said Surrey is spending on screen rentals, performers, DJs and porta-potties. At the intersection of the game parties, Foslien said the city is spending as much as $30,000 per night on policing alone.


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