By Jesse Laufer
Downtown Victoria may be more crowded than usual Friday night if the DIY Street party goes off as planned.
The unsanctioned event has more than 7,000 people listed as interested on its Facebook page.
Posts online make reference to the event being “grassroots,” so the city and police have no involvement in the planning process. In a blog post titled ‘In Response to the Haters,’ organizers wrote “coordinating with the city means organizing on their terms. Terms that prioritize gentrification over community. This isn’t just a party, it’s a model for social organizing.”
Requests for an interview with organizers were unsuccessful.
The Commercial Drive Mayday Street Party that took place last year in Vancouver inspired organizers in Victoria. More than 5,000 people attended the Vancouver event, which was closely watched by police. Local authorities shut down a few blocks of traffic to accommodate the large crowd, but the event ended with one person being stabbed and three arrests.
Though the City of Victoria and police department has reached out to organizers, so far their calls have gone unanswered.
“The main concern is we don’t know exactly what it is,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “We have a staff team that does events and they do an awesome job. My main concern is this not wanting to give our team a heads up.”
On their blog, organizers try to clear up whether the event is a protest or party, stating “It is being organized as a street party. There may be underlining political elements but it is about getting together to have fun.”
Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford said the department has been aware of the event for some time via social media, but all they know is what’s been posted online. Their biggest worry is public safety since events typically get permits and consult with police to ensure safety.