Riot leaves city with millions in damage, black eye
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, June 16, 2011 5:37PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:05AM PDT
Four hours of violent rioting in Vancouver's downtown core following the Canucks' Game 7 loss caused millions of dollars in damage to dozens of local businesses, not to mention the black eye it gave to the city's reputation.
Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association said its members are "shocked and dismayed" by the actions of angry rioters who turned the downtown core into complete bedlam following the game.
Gauthier said 50 businesses suffered various degrees of damage during the post-Cup riot, including broken windows and doors and tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise stolen during looting.
He's encouraging business owners to forward any videos and footage of rioters to police so the people behind the riots can be brought to justice.
One of the stores that suffered the most damage was the London Drugs at the corner of Granville and Georgia streets, where managers closed the doors two hours early because of the angry mob growing outside.
The store's front doors withstood about two hours of pounding before the rioters finally crashed through the double layer of laminated glass and security gates at 10 p.m.
Sweeping through the empty store on Thursday, Clint Mahlman, senior VP of London Drugs, said the 20 staff members still in the store ran for cover when an estimated 200 looters stormed into the store and grabbed anything and everything they could get their hands on.
People stole big screen TVs, expensive SLR cameras, makeup and crates of potato chips.
"I think it's very unfortunate," Mahlman said. "It's very clear that this was a few people looking for trouble – it's not indicative of the Canucks' fan base."
Down the street, coffee shop owner Minnie Dun said she was forced to barricade herself and three staff members in a storage room when rioters started rampaging through her business.
"The whole place is demolished," she said, choking back tears. "The whole place is gone, there's nothing left."
Four staff members also barricaded themselves into a small back room at a Blenz coffee shop when rioters began roaming the streets looking for trouble.
Staff members say stones and shopping carts were thrown against their store windows before they finally broke down.
Next door at Black and Lee Tuxedos the shelves were completely empty after hooligans busted store windows and fled with mannequins and merchandise.
Managers estimate at least $10,000 in clothing was stolen.
Construction superintendent John Revington said damage to just one of his downtown sites was up to $20,000.
"Here's a message to the people out there who did this: You're a bunch of morons," he said.
"We'll get the businesses open but who's going to pay for this, the morons who did this last night? I don't think so. Come on down and give me a cheque for the damage you did to my building when you were drunk and high on violence."
Bob Glass, president of the Downtown Vancouver Association, said it's not just the damage to businesses that people should worry about. He says the damage to the city's reputation in the eyes of the world was "incalculable."
The images of marauding hooligans spread from NBC and CNN in North America to television networks in Britain and across Europe, erasing people's memories of the beautiful 2010 Olympic city and replacing them with images of violence.
Despite the riots, business owners say they're not deterred from holding more large events in the downtown core in the future.
"Our downtown is the heart of Vancouver. It is so unfortunate that what was a celebratory event on previous evenings over the course of the last two weeks degenerated into acts of violence and criminality," Gauthier told CTV News.
Touring the areas that were hardest hit by the riots on Thursday morning, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she was shocked and angered by the damage to local businesses but wouldn't let the riot stand in the way of future celebrations.
"If we give up our streets the criminals win," she said.
Mayor Gregor Robertson vowed that the city would work closely with businesses to "bring things back to normal."
"We're going to start working on a plan to rebound from this. We have to understand exactly what happened last night. We've got to bring those who are responsible to justice," Robertson told reporters.
In a Vancouver police press conference, Chief Jim Chu apologized to the affected business owners and promised to arrest the rioters.
"I know how devastating this can be, especially to small businesses. We will track down these criminals," he said, adding that the damage was caused by a small contingent of "criminals, anarchist and thugs."
He denied that any of the people were angry Canucks fans, despite multiple photos circulating of men wearing jerseys robbing stores and causing mischief.
Several Facebook pages have sprung up post-riot dedicated to identifying those involved with the riots, in an effort to bring them to justice.
The cleanup begins
Thousands of volunteers descended on downtown Vancouver pre-dawn on Thursday to board up windows and clean up broken glass in an effort to bring their city back to some kind of normalcy.
Marcy Potter said she was determined to help the city she normally regards as "beautiful and clean."
"We need to show the world that we're not like last night," she said.
City Manager Penny Ballem said she was touched to see citizens band together in the wake of something so terrible.
"I'll tell you it makes you choke up to see. They care so much about this city and they're angry this happened," she said.
Dozens of heartfelt messages could be seen scrawled on the plywood panels on downtown businesses where the glass was in place just a day ago.