Canucks' fans cheer on the team at Central City Plaza in North Surrey in 2011.

Canucks' fans cheer on the team at Central City Plaza in North Surrey in 2011.

Canucks party slated for North Surrey

Festivities at Central City Plaza are not expected to begin until the last round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

While the City of Vancouver is shutting down the idea of erecting big screen TVs for the Stanley Cup playoffs, Surrey is forging ahead with party plans similar to last year’s for the final series should the Canucks make it that far.

Vancouver is toning down public events after the hockey riot last year that saw cars overturned and set on fire, stores looted and widespread mayhem after the Canucks lost game seven – and the Stanley Cup – to the Boston Bruins on June 15.

Of the 78 people charged with riot-related offences as of March 29, 2012, 25 were from Surrey.

For the 2012 season, the City of Surrey is planning a celebration featuring big screen TVs at Central City Plaza (near the entrance to SFU in North Surrey) in what the city is pitching as a family friendly event.

Surrey will set up a large screen TV, while a DJ is expected to keep the crowd pumped at intermissions. Face painters, stilt walkers and other attractions will be added for kids.

The gates will open at the celebration site an hour before the puck drops. People should expect to have their bags searched at the gates.

Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of parks and recreation, said the turnouts last year at Central City Plaza averaged about 5,000 per game last year. That number grew to up to 8,000 by game seven of the final series.

Meanwhile, about 10 kilometers to the southwest, crowds are already beginning to gather on game nights at 72 Avenue and Scott Road, an impromptu location for street celebrations.

During last year’s playoffs, the size of the crowds at the intersection swelled to about 10,000.

The big challenge at that intersection, police say, has been controlling traffic and knowing when to shut down local roads.

A key concern is making sure revellers don’t get hit by cars.

“Crowds will gradually grow as Canucks progress through the playoff series,” said Surrey RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger. “So we’re reactivating a robust and comprehensive plan dedicating police resources to ensure public safety, and making sure pedestrians and vehicles don’t come to an unfortunate meeting.”

That involves pre-planning detours for traffic in conjunction with the Delta Police Department, which will be helping police the intersection.

The party at SFU won’t begin until the final round of the playoffs, should the Canucks make it that far. A key enforcement strategy at that event will be keeping booze out of the site. That will require a combined effort of private security, RCMP and SkyTrain police making sure people aren’t drunk or bringing liquor onto the celebration site.

The playoffs start tonight, when the Canucks face the Los Angeles Kings.

The next game in the series against the Kings will be Friday at 7 p.m.