Parking bans will be in effect on game nights and police will have a no-tolerance approach for excessive honking and other forms of unruliness along the Red Mile as the Calgary Flames began the quest for the team’s first Stanley Cup since 1989.
Insp. Clare Smart said police will patrol 17th Avenue S.W. with mounted units, bike units, beat officers as well as partners to ensure fans are respectful and responsible on game days. Calgary kicked off its first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday evening.
“There’s going to be zero tolerance for the honking. With that, we have our Calgary traffic units that will be looking into those incidents and laying tickets where they can,” said Smart.
Smart said police and bylaw officers will also ticket anyone found to be drinking alcohol outside of licensed establishments, smoking marijuana in public or urinating in public, as well as other bylaw breaches.
“Participants who come downtown to celebrate are asked to be respectful and mindful of the potential impact on surrounding communities and businesses,” said Smart.
Smart said police will review how teams are deployed after each game and will adjust accordingly. She also noted that away games and home games will be watched differently by law enforcement, while police will also be attending the Red Lot watch party outside the Scotiabank Saddledome.
A parking ban will be in effect on 17th Avenue S.W., also known as the Red Mile, but the roadway will remain open to vehicles. Police are reserving the right to close the road but the goal is to keep it open. Officials are encouraging Calgarians to plan their trips into the core ahead of time and to use public transit whenever possible.
Smart and other representatives speaking to media on Tuesday said they have learned from past experiences in the playoffs when fans descended upon the Red Mile, particularly during a long playoff run in 2004 when the Flames lost in the final to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“There’s some things that I hope that we do not see again, and again, there’s going to be that education piece,” said Smart. “That will be educating and asking the community to look out for each other, to look out for the community and, again, to be respectful.”
Reports from 2004 showed the Red Mile became a party during the Flames’ run, with people travelling to the Beltline neighbourhood from across Western Canada to join the action. Fans reportedly climbed trees and buildings, while others crowd-surfed outside bars.
Several businesses in the area told Postmedia earlier this year they are excited to welcome fans back for the playoffs.
The 2004 celebrations took the city by semi-surprise as the team that year wasn’t expected to make it to the final. This year, the Flames finished the regular season atop the division and many pundits expect them to go deep into the playoffs. Police said Tuesday they have been planning for several months in anticipation of the team’s success.
While much of the focus for policing will be around the busy street filled with bars and restaurants, people are being encouraged to watch and celebrate respectfully wherever they are in the city.
“We’re encouraging people to celebrate the Calgary Flames’ success both at home, within their communities and on 17th Avenue,” said Ben Brackett with the City of Calgary’s festival and event planning team. “We know the Calgary fans have a long history — look at the Calgary Stampede — of celebrating in a safe and respectful manner and we expect that to continue.”
If the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers both win their first-round matchups, they will meet in the second round of the playoffs for the first post-season Battle of Alberta since 1991. Smart said police have had conversations around how that would affect policing with a higher number of visiting fans expected in the city, but did not provide specifics on their plans.
As for predictions, Smart said she believes the Flames will go all the way this year.
“I’m just gonna say that we are bringing home the Cup,” said Smart.