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Beer garden at Pride

A half-day beer garden is on tap at Sunset Beach for this year’s Pride festival, thanks to a parks board unanimous vote Jun 11.

After years of intermittently knocking on the beer-garden-at-Pride-permit door without success, what made the difference?

Consistency in managing a large annual event, a willingness to be flexible and sticking to a business plan, says Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) president John Boychuk.

“For any organization, what’s required is a proven track record. The last five years, putting on an event in a public park, they saw we were able to manage a large number of persons,” Boychuk explains.

“And by us saying, we were not doing Sunset Beach alone, [that] we were partnering with a professional company, it showed we were willing to give over control of security and a lot of the planning that goes around it,” he continues.

Queer parks commissioner Spencer Herbert says the parks board noted how “well run the society is,” the lack of rowdiness in the Davie Village bar corridor and the importance of Pride to the city in deciding to give the go-ahead for a beer garden this year.

The VPS’ decision to partner with a professional company familiar with security requirements was also a good call, he adds.

According to Boychuk, the VPS’ one-time Homopalooza partners, John Donnelly and Associates Event Management Company, will be holding the beer garden reins this year for security, serving and stocking the alcohol.

Thus far, only 200 persons at a time will be allowed into the Pride festival beer garden, which will be housed in the roller hockey rink.

“Unfortunately, because of the number of persons in that area, the emergency access, all the work that would need to go into expanding it, the facilities just aren’t there,” Boychuk says.

Herbert points out it was the VPS who suggested the 200-person limit. He notes that the timeframe for requesting a larger capacity is dwindling fast. “We’ve only got a few more meetings left,” he says, adding that the parks board could be open to the concept.

The liquids will start flowing at 1 pm, Aug 5. The VPS is requesting a $2 donation to be put towards next year’s 30th anniversary celebrations.