Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson brought a motion to city council Sept 18 calling for Pride to be designated a civic event.
“Over the years that I’ve been on council it’s been a desire of mine to see this come forth so that we might indeed make all these civic events,” Stevenson said in his introductory remarks.
Civic event designation means the city would assume greater responsibility for the costs of street closures, policing and cleanup after the Pride parade. Only the Celebration of Light, the Grey Cup Festival and Remembrance Day events have the designation now. The motion also seeks civic designation for the Vaisakhi and Lunar New Year parades.
“I think that this should be a unanimous recommendation for now, and hopefully when it comes back we’ll all be in favour,” said Stevenson, who then challenged the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) city councillors to live up to their election promise to support civic designation of Pride.
“I noticed that there were some disparaging remarks by Councillor [George] Affleck on this when it originally went to the press, when I took it there,” Stevenson said. “But I want to say that I really appreciate the work of Sean Bickerton from the NPA, who was always a staunch supporter of this. He and I, of course, have talked to this in the past, and I’m hoping that his support will rub off on the NPA and even though he may not be carrying on with that particular banner, that it will rub off on Councillor [Elizabeth] Ball and Councillor Affleck.”
Affleck told Global News on Aug 17 that he was concerned that the motion included other festivals. “Which is fine,” he said, “but I worry that that might be an out for Vision so that they’ll get a report back saying that it’s going to cost so much money and then they’ll turn it down, saying, ‘We can’t afford this,’ when really, I think each festival and event should be treated separately.”
Affleck says Stevenson’s motion is asking too much and making it impossible. The NPA supports civic designation for Pride, he says, but it would be better to first create a process for granting civic designation before deciding which festivals or parades should receive it.
“I would like to see to a section that creates criteria that all festivals can follow to become designated, just like arts organizations,” Affleck says. “For example, the Santa Claus Parade, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Vancouver Marathon could argue that they should also receive civic status, and unless we have criteria the lack of transparency concerns me.”
Affleck describes Pride as the epitome of what civic designation is about and says it would tick “every box imaginable,” including return on investment, celebration of diversity and community outreach.
Stevenson wants Affleck to support the motion as is.
“It’s really too bad that he can’t just support this — that he has to come up with some cock-and-bull story. That’s ridiculous to say that’s why we can’t do it,” Stevenson says. “He’s got these ulterior motives that somehow staff is going to say it’s too expensive, which is nonsense. He can’t just say, ‘Wow, this is a great way forward for Pride and Vaisakhi and the Chinese New Year.’ These are the three largest events in this city and are supported by thousands of people, and obviously it’s a huge cost to those organizations and this will alleviate a large chunk of those, and the city will pick up the police bill and garbage and those things.”
Vancouver Pride Society president Tim Richards told Xtra in August that city costs to stage the parade in 2011 totalled between $65,000 and $70,000.
Stevenson’s motion will be voted on by the planning, transportation and environment committee tomorrow. If it passes, it will be referred to city staff, who will prepare a report for council’s consideration by January 2013.