Police estimate that there were between 1,100 and 1,500 pedestrians at the Newton-North Delta border Friday night (Aug. 21) to celebrate the Canucks’ win against the St. Louis Blues.
Cris Leykauf, Delta Police public affairs manager, added that there were also hundreds of vehicles taking part in the celebration around Scott Road and 72nd Avenue.
“With crowds that size, they were so large that officers really spent most of their time trying to manage the traffic issues, and essentially ensure that pedestrians didn’t get run over,” she told the Now-Leader Saturday afternoon.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Blues 6-2 to win the series, advancing onto the next round of playoffs against the Vegas Knights. The Canucks will play the Knights on Sunday (Aug. 23).
It’s the Canucks’ first playoff series since 2015 and their first playoff series win since 2011, when they beat the San Jose Sharks in the final four but lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final.
Leykauf said that officers were “very concerned” about traffic and pedestrian safety.
“That was really the focus last night.”
Meantime, Surrey RCMP said there were “no incidents to report.”
Surrey RCMP Staff Sergeant Joe Johal said, “There were a lot of people, but nothing, no incidents to report.”
He added there were “some” motor vehicle act violations, such as people not wearing seatbelts.
“We did block the traffic last night for a little bit, and then opened it once things calmed down,” said Johal.
On Friday morning (Aug. 21), Surrey RCMP released a joint statement with the Delta Police Department to remind Canucks fans to celebrate safely during the team’s “quest for the Stanley Cup.”
As for tickets from the DPD, Leykauf said as of Saturday there were no tickets entered into the department’s system.
Over the years, Canucks fans have taken to gathering at the intersection of Scott Road and 72nd Avenue to celebrate playoff wins.
It was a popular place for honking car horns and flying Canucks flags during the team’s Stanley Cup run in the spring of 2011.
Johal said the police departments will have a presence, with “extra members,” to “take care” of the intersection for “every game if we win.”
He said there will be a plan in place for the next game.
Leykauf said, “We’re asking people please to celebrate at home or in smaller groups.
“That’s definitely not the kind of situation that we want to see because, not only the traffic-safety issues and pedestrian-safety issues, but of course with those sizes of crowds, it’s not possible to physical distance in an appropriate way.”
For the Aug. 21 celebration, Surrey RCMP said officers would be “taking a measured approach,” but they will be on hand to enforce the Criminal Code and other provincial statutes, including the liquor act.
Officers will also be “mindful of current COVID-19 public health orders, and will be monitoring the gathering for compliance.”
Meantime, the provincial government announced Friday (Aug. 21) new fines for people who host or organize parties in violation of public heath restrictions.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the new fine authority Aug. 21, after the province’s coronavirus infection rate jumped in recent weeks to as many as 100 cases a day.
Public health officials say the majority of the new cases have been identified through contact tracing after summer parties and gatherings.
– With files from The Canadian Press, Tom Fletcher