Celebration of Light kicks off in Vancouver: What you need to know

Courtesy of Honda Celebration of Light

Tonight we kick off the Honda Celebration of Light, which is one of the longest running off-shore fireworks festivals in the world.

Tonight, Team Japan is slated to kick off the festival at English Bay starting at 10 o clock.

Significant police presence expected in Downtown Vancouver

With the popularity of the event, we can expect massive crowds of tens of thousands of people gathering.

The Vancouver Police’s Superintendent Michelle Davies says they will be adjusting their tactics due to recent world events and in order to ensure the safety of the masses.

“We look at the plans that we’ve made from previous years and we adjust accordingly based on world events. As tragic as those events are, we have to take measures to ensure those types of events don’t happen in our city. You can be assured that the Vancouver police is very aware of those events and have taken steps mitigating and ensuring those things from happening in Vancouver.”

She adds the crowds were larger than expected last year, with 300-500 thousand people making their way down, so we can expect a larger police presence when compared to previous years.

“In the Downtown West End, on the beaches as well as Kitsilano and Jericho, you will see a significant police presence.”

She’s reminding those who are planning to watch the fireworks, to give yourself plenty of time to get in and out of the area, and to report anything that seems out of place.

She also adds there is a concern about a repeat of Canada Day, where capacity issues meant people were asked to not venture to Waterfront.

Davies says it all depends on a variety of factors.

“Our officers are trained to determine when we are getting close to capacity. It depends on a variety of factors, like crowd behaviour. We will take all of that into consideration, and we will message very clearly when capacity has been reached.”

Translink preparing for the masses

Translink is providing extra service and extended hours tonight to keep up with the expected crowds going to view the fireworks.

A number of bus routes will be receiving more service, as well as the Skytrain.

The Millenium and Expo lines will run more frequently, with the last scheduled train leaving Waterfront at 1:16 am.

The Canada Line will be providing rush hour level service all evening.

Keep in mind bikes will not be allowed on the SkyTrain after 10 pm, and are only being allowed on board with bikes after the crowds clear.

For those travelling via SeaBus, sailings are every 10 minutes from 10 am to 8 pm, and every 15 minutes until around 12:15 am.

If transit is not an option, there are some road closures you should keep an eye on.

The City of Vancouver says there will be full closures of Davie from Burrard to Beach, Denman from Robson to Beach, Beach from Stanley Park to Burrard. That’s from 7 to 11 pm.

In the West End, only local traffic will be allowed through from 7 to 11 pm.

Transit Police tips on staying safe during busy commutes

Metro Vancouver Transit Police say buses, sky trains and sea buses will be extremely busy and are offering some tips to stay safe.

Acting Chief Barry Cross says if there’s a concern for safety, Transit Police will be on standby to help.

“When travelling in groups, have a pre-plan. Talk about where you might meet should something happen if you get separated from the rest of your group. If something happens, please feel free to report that to us, issues on trains or buses, there are security strips, or you can text us at 87-77-77.”

He adds it’s important to keep an eye on personal belongings and take steps to prevent theft.

“Stay alert to your surroundings. That includes avoiding keeping earphones in with your devices. Keep those out of sight as much as you can in your pockets, backpacks so there’s no risk of anyone grabbing those. Try to keep your valuables zipped up. That includes purses, backpacks and things of that nature.”

Dry conditions leave firefighters wary of potential for fire

And with the dry, hot conditions it’s important to remember smoking is prohibited from city beaches and parks.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service’s Joe Foster says an improperly discarded cigarette can quickly lead to out of control flames.

“If you choose to smoke use an ashtray at an appropriate location and discard your cigarettes in an appropriate container. Discarded smoking materials are the leading cause of the outdoor fires we have in our province today. They can lead to a 500 dollar fine and we will be on the lookout for that on those nights.”

Foster adds extra firefighters are being deployed to prevent any fires that may break out.

Vancouver Food Bank accepting donations at Second Beach 

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank will be onsite during the Honda Celebration of Light at the Park Stage at Second Beach, collecting non-perishable food donations.

If possible, participants are being asked to bring healthy, non-perishable food items to ensure families across the city have access to healthy, nutritious meals.
The best items are canned fish, meat and beans; hearty meals such as soups, stews and chillies, peanut butter, pasta and rice.