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City council to vote on civic designation for Pride


City council to vote on civic designation for Pride

Vision Vancouver will bring forward a motion to city council this fall to consider civic status for the Vancouver Pride parade. IMAGE 1 OF 1
'Vision has decided that it's time to move forward': Stevenson
Vision Vancouver will bring forward a motion to city council this fall calling for Pride to be designated a civic event.

“After another record turnout of over 650,000 at the BC Day long weekend’s Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival, Vision Vancouver and its team at City Council believe it’s time that civic status be granted to Pride, and possibly other large-scale community festivals such as Vaisakhi and Chinese/Lunar New Year,” states an Aug 16 release from Vision Vancouver.

If it receives civic status, the Vancouver Pride parade — like the Celebration of Light fireworks competition, Remembrance Day and the Grey Cup parade — would potentially no longer bear the costs of city services, such as policing, parking, permits and sanitation.

“This is a huge breakthrough and a huge and significant announcement, obviously, for our community,” Councillor Tim Stevenson told Xtra Aug 16. “In light of, again, another extremely successful Pride event, Vision has decided that it’s time to move forward.”

Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) president Tim Richards says the news is very exciting. “When Tim [Stevenson] called me and told me the news I actually got goose bumps.”

The city’s support and public recognition would mean a lot to our community, Richards says. “The economic impact is there, so the city sees that. But then on the flip side, you balance that out with what an impact that has for our community — for all citizens of Vancouver — to say that we live in a city that’s really inclusive and wants to support us that way.”

Stevenson cautions it’s not a done deal until city staff has had a chance to review the proposal and make its recommendations.

“Vancouver’s Pride is now the largest parade of any kind in Western Canada and ranks among the largest Pride celebrations in the world,” Stevenson notes in the press release.

“I have felt for many years we needed to do this, but there were lots of voices that said that the finances were such that it was difficult,” he tells Xtra. “It was also felt that other events would also have to be considered for the designation. And so there was reticence to move it [Pride] out to that scale.”

“Finally, we have come to a consensus,” Stevenson says. “It’s been an issue that has had a lot of debate over the years.”

Former VPS president Ken Coolen says he’s pleased with the news but suggests there’s a kind of arbitrariness in the granting of civic status.

At the end of the day, there needs to be a system so that anybody can apply for the designation, with the funding disbursed more judiciously, he says.

In 2008, a civic election year, then newly elected Coolen asserted that the city needed to stand behind Pride financially “in a bigger way.”

In presenting the treasurer’s report that year, Coolen said the bill from the city had more than doubled, noting that the parade route had been lengthened, requiring more street closures, more signage and more police.

In the end, the parade cost the VPS just over $56,000 to stage that year, $20,000 of which went to the city for assorted fees, according to Coolen’s 2008 report.

“The Pride Society shouldn’t be paying that much to put on a one-day celebration for the city,” Coolen said then. “I would hazard a guess that more than half of the parade do not recognize themselves as GBLT,” he added. “I think at least 250,000 people come from other communities of our city and of our Lower Mainland, and we're entertaining them for three hours. That's something that the city needs to stand behind in a bigger way.”

“Putting on the parade is a huge part of the non-profit society’s budget,” Richards concurs. “I think as a city, in the big scheme of things, it’s a small investment to make for the citizens of the city.”

It would be a huge financial relief if the designation comes to pass, Richards adds.

City costs to stage the parade in 2011 totalled approximately $65,000 to $70,000, Richards says.

“The Pride Parade and Festival boost Vancouver’s economy by over $30 million every year,” Stevenson says in the press release. “Civic status is one important way the city can continue to build on its support for large-scale community events that celebrate our diversity, showcase Vancouver’s vibrant character, and create jobs by injecting millions of dollars into our local economy.”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has also repeatedly touted Pride as an economic and cultural boon to Vancouver. As recently as the July 30 Pride launch at city hall, he told Xtra that granting Pride civic designation was in the works but pointed to lean budgetary circumstances as a setback to progress on that front.

“The discussions will be — and what I’ll be pushing for — is when you have a Pride parade of 650,000, what level of funding do you get in comparison to the Grey Cup or the other ones?” Stevenson asks.

Richards credits “tons and tons of work and discussion that people have had over the years” for paving the way toward the proposed civic designation.

“It’s nice to see [we’re] getting this close, so fingers crossed, things continue along this wonderful path,” he says. “It’s a pretty good day.”
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HEy Stephen
Why are you so focused on the crowd numbers that the police have said attended? It's slightly more than the 500,000 that attend fireworks each year.

Isnt' that weird Stephen? That many people enjoy a raucous crowd to watch boom, pop, sizzle? It is to me, but who am I to question what people want to do with their time.

Did you attend the parade? It was very very difficult to walk down Robson Street, and impossible to navigate Denman or by the beach due to the thousands and thousands of attendees.
I do believe you have a problem with pride and the attendance numbers. Please go to the source, the police, to get clarification on the crowd estimate.

I'm sorry if you have sour grapes that the pride parade is Vancouver's biggest draw.
Try to embrace it next year, and years following, and you won't have to be so bitter, or upset, or whatever you are by it.

THanks so much!
its still unrealistic
I have no idea why the numbers are inflated but beinga person who has lived on the planet and breathed the atmosphere for almost 50 years i wouldnt be surprised if it was in the best interest of politicians and community orgs not to question highly speculative numbers when financial gain is involved. That belief is not so much a conspiracy theory as it is sthe fact that most of us weren't born freaking YESTERDAY! I mean come on! Surely the sense of Pride in our community isnt so weak that someone questioning such incredulous numbers -1/4 of BCs population in the West End- is just some guy pissing in your Pride flakes. Shallow sense of pride if it is. How about a little more honesty when coming into our rights - that isnt too much to ask of our elected officials is it. Oh maybe i was born yesterday :/
This numbers talk is kinda bullshit.
You have to seriously be a special kind of stupid to think the police is making up numbers and spreading it in an effort to help Pride secure sponsors and sell ads. If you're going to say that, you might as well tell people that the VPD is on Pride's payroll. The police or traffic police...the people that, I don't know, do crowd control for a living...probably have a better idea than you guys. The police, a completely independant third-party, is saying there's 650k...so maybe there's something about that. Maybe you should take an estimate for what it is, an estimate....and stop making unfounded accusations that the good people that volunteer their time to put on this great event are scheming idiots that are stupid enough to think they can convince anyone that 100k people is actually 650k. The estimate is 650k...and until someone more qualified than the police comes forward with a different number, I don't see why they would say anything different.
Negatives over positives
It's always disappointing when you read amazingly positive news and than read the comments to find someone has made a hyper critical unsubstantiated response. I won't deny that you've done well to perk peoples interest in knowing how the numbers have come about. But It sounds like you're spreading rumors that are inflated to the point of conspiracy theories and that doesn't help anyone.

What you should be asking for is an economic impact study to see an accurate value for what the events bring to the city. Before you do that though you have to keep in mind that doing such a study can cost a lot of money, and in most cases you get what you pay for. It's in Prides and the Vancouver's best interest to consider that and invest a lofty amount into substantiating their claims. The police count isn't going to be accurate but what it is, is affordable for now. It's far more realistic to believe that people at the Pride consider an actual impact study over the police numbers far more valuable and a goal to achieve.

I guess what I'm trying to say to you though is this. Find a better way to say what you want that turns a negative into a positive and is still helpful but critical. Right now you don't look like a person who is trying to make a difference just someone who just wants to sling mud like an angry child.
more numbers
I actually need more accurate numbers to complete my video documentary about Prides across BC in the past five years. I'm going to ask organizers how they came at the numbers they did and follow that up with city services if need be. Part of being out and proud isbeing honest, and whether money/business is tied to progressive gains is irrelevant to me; ad long as it is come by honestly. Pride shouldn't be gained through dishonesty.
The numbers are bogus
Thank you, Stephen Emery. Indeed the numbers are bogus and they keep growing every year in—if you pardon the invented word—bogusosity. I thought 500,000 was bad enough when I read it in both a recent story and editorial in Xtra. Now 650,000! Please. Not possible. Picture it. The average NFL size stadium is 100,000. So the police, the Pride Society and Xtra are telling us 6 and one-half full stadium audiences attend this thing. You know, I know and any thinking person knows the dirty secret is...the number is pulled out of a hat. It helps secure sponsors. It helps sell ads. It helps to boost police budgets for the day. It's a joke. And I want to see a journalist do a serious story on why not only Pride audiences, but the Celebration of Light audience, and every other big outdoor event crowd in Vancouver and elsewhere is ridiculously inflated. The Parade has indeed grown and deserves to be treated on equal footing with other big community events. But stop insulting our intelligence with these wacky numbers. They are pure and simple: fiction.
Parade Numbers Unrealistic
While I DO think that the City of Vancouver should grant civic status to the Van Pride Parade; I think using incredibly inflated attendance numbers is a dishonest way to do it. 650,000 people is almost 1/4 the population of the entire Lower Mainland lining the streets of the Parade DT. I think that is physically impossible. I don't believe it. 

If you consider that the population of BC is 4million and 10% of us LGBT then the equiv. of ALL 400k of us would have had to attend the parade with the 250k straight supporters quoted. Even with an improbable 100k queers coming from across Canada and the US border (and I doubt we get more than 20K from out of town); I just don't think there are enough adult age queers who are out enough in BC to make that 650K even close to realistic.

I'd really like to know who does these counts and exactly what methods they employ.

I have been videotaping this parade for the past five years all along the route and to my own lens and eyes the density of the crowd has not seemed to have tripled since 2006. In fact, this year, the numbers lining the streets seemed to have thinned out even before the "gap incident"

Having said all that. Even with a more realistic 100k in attendance, I think the city should grant is civil standing.
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