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Firefighters latest to raise concerns about upcoming Vancouver 4/20 event

A participant in Vancouver's 2018 4/20 event fires a cannabis powered "love cannon.".
A participant in Vancouver's 2018 4/20 event fires a cannabis powered "love cannon.". Global News

Vancouver firefighters are raising concerns about public safety at Saturday’s unsanctioned 4/20 event.​

“We don’t have any idea how large the crowd could be. There’s no limits on the size of the crowd, there’s no designated exit areas​,” said Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) Capt. Jonathan Gormick.

READ MORE: Park Board motion looks to scale back Vancouver 4/20 event by cancelling Cypress Hill

The festival may see larger numbers than usual this year because organizers have invited hip hop group Cypress Hill to take centre stage. Fire crews say the show could bring additional risks.

WATCH: Park Board Commissioner votes on 4/20 concert plans

Park Board Commissioner votes on 4/20 concert plans
Park Board Commissioner votes on 4/20 concert plans

“Any time there is a large structure, electronics… there’s always inherent dangers and risks with that, and we can’t address them adequately,” said Gormick.

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The Vancouver Park Board voted to call on 4/20 organizers to cancel the concert, with some commissioners asking Vancouver’s mayor to step in.

READ MORE: Vancouver Pride Society tells 4/20 organizers to face facts: it’s a festival, not a protest

“I really think it’s time for Mayor Kennedy Stewart to show some leadership,” said Park Board Commissioner John Coupar.

Stewart says the city tried several times to discourage the event at Sunset Beach, but won’t crack down on crowds or take active measures to block the stage set-up.

WATCH: True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released

True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released
True costs of Vancouver 4/20 celebrations released

“We don’t want to antagonize a large group of people,” said Stewart.

“We don’t want scenes we see in other cities, with tear gas and police on horseback riding through crowds. That’s not the approach here.”

READ MORE: Cypress Hill to headline Vancouver 4/20, critics say event no longer a protest

According to Stewart, the city will take a less confrontational approach. Crews will check the stage for safety and inspect the field afterwards.

“We’ll be sending them a bill for all the costs, including policing, and we reserve the right to pursue legal action if they don’t pay,” said Stewart.

The mayor also said staff are considering other locations for next year’s event.

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READ MORE: Vancouver 4/20 celebrations cost taxpayers more than half a million dollars over 2 years: report

VFRS officials say the planning needs to begin now.

“It would be safer for everyone if we could look at the evolution of this event, and where a better place might be,” said Gormick.

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