Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Hi Folks!

Posted below is a press release from PRIDE regarding their decision not to move the parade route. I'm proud that so many members of the GLBT communities came out to a meeting last night and expressed their opinions. It was a great meeting and a greater outcome.


March 30, 2005

For Immediate Release


The Vancouver Pride Society has voted to suspend its plans to move the
Pride Parade and Festival from its conventional route. Last night, the
VPS and seventy-five members of the LGBT community took part in a
community forum at the West End Community Centre during which those
present voiced their concern over the proposed changes. On Thursday,
March 31st the VPS had planned to ask City Hall for permission to
expand the Pride Parade from the crowded Denman/Beach area to a larger
space that followed Pacific Ave. to the Plaza of Nations. The proposed
changes were forwarded by the VPS in order to ensure spectator safety,
provide better access to those with disabilities, allow for an
all-weather festival site and accommodate a 40% increase in attendance
over the last four years.

?We were forced to confront the fact that those present at the
community forum were decidedly against the move,? said VPS spokesperson
Steven Schelling. ?Moving [the parade and festival] has become a
terribly divisive issue and we cannot hope to organize a successful
Pride celebration without the support of the more vocal members of the
LGBT community. The general consensus at the community forum was that
we should postpone our motion to City Hall in order to better gauge the
feelings of the community. Unfortunately, that is a luxury we cannot
afford. We are four months away from Pride Week and to delay a venue
decision any further would adversely affect our sponsorship revenue and
the financial viability of Pride 2005. That is why we have suspended
our expansion plans for this year.?

While the Pride Parade will continue along Denman and Beach, the
Festival site remains undetermined. The move away from the Plaza of
Nations as the Festival site has already endangered a $5000 sponsorship
contract. According to VPS president Shawn Ewing, the Plaza of Nations
site was a draw to corporate sponsors because it signaled to them that
Vancouver Pride was becoming a more secure investment. ?We?ve always
been perceived as the little sibling of Toronto and Montreal. The
possibility of a move to Plaza of Nations made the sponsors sit up and
take notice. We are exploring our options,? says Ewing. ?Festival
vendors and sponsors help pay for the event and they are unhappy with
the traditional Sunset Beach site. It is only right that we try to find
a new space for the Pride Festival.?

The proposed changes to the parade and festival have begun to mobilize
an otherwise apathetic community. ?We have been operating under the
assumption that the community just wanted the party and was not willing
to put in the work,? said Ewing. ?People were shocked to hear that
twenty-two volunteers were responsible for the safety of 160 000 people
at last year?s parade,? Of the seventy-five people in attendance,
twenty-seven offered to volunteer for Pride 2005 and fifteen
memberships to the Vancouver Pride Society were sold ? effectively
doubling its membership. ?It was very heartening to see that some
people are willing to help us organize an important signature event in
this city.? That being said, there is still a long way to go.?

Vancouver?s Pride Week runs from July 23rd to the 31st. Visit for more information.

Media please contact

Steven Schelling
Media Relations Director
Vancouver Pride Society