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Capital Pride parade will go on as scheduled

City grants 24-hour grace period for payment

Ottawa's gay community can celebrate Pride, since the parade will go on as planned. Credit: Ben Welland

The Capital Pride (CP) parade will go on as planned this weekend after a last-minute crisis regarding payment to the City of Ottawa was resolved.

The deadline for CP’s payment of $15,000 to cover the costs of policing and festival site facilities at city hall’s Marion Dewar Plaza was Aug 22 at 3:30pm. Unable to meet the deadline, CP initially requested an extension until after the festival.

“We experienced a cash-flow issue,” CP’s vice-chair of communications, Brodie Fraser, says. “Not that we didn’t have the assets. We had them, but most of them were in transit.”

CP awaited funds through its Paypal account, Fraser explains, and they came through Aug 23.

The Ottawa Sun reports that Fraser sent a letter to city council Aug 22 requesting the deferment.

“As you know, the Pride Festival is a major event for the City of Ottawa and is a highly sensitive, politically–charged event,” Fraser wrote in the letter published by The Ottawa Sun. “I feel that the negative media surrounding the cancellation of this event would look very poorly upon our wonderful city, especially in these times where members of the federal cabinet, including the prime minister, have stepped forward in defence of gay rights worldwide.”

Fraser told Xtra the city would not grant the extension until after Sunday but did grant a 24-hour grace period.

“A foolproof way to know that we would be able to pay for it is if we could pay it after the festival,” Fraser says, adding that the majority of CP’s revenue comes from the festival gates and bar sales on Pride Sunday. “That was the strategy in terms of asking to pay for it afterwards. The city policy is that you pay before. We did want to put a little pressure on them in terms of that request because we knew it would be an exception to their policy, but in the end we didn’t need it.”

Fraser says CP also explored the option of asking for assistance from this year’s sponsors.

In a statement from the city to Xtra, deputy city treasurer Ken Hughes confirms that “Capital Pride has met all the obligations and provide[d] all funding required for them to be able to stage the event.”

Fees relating to city services for a special event usually must be paid two weeks in advance, he says.

“Our first intent is not to stop events, but, rather, to see them go forward,” he says. “Also, the city pursues outstanding balances that may occur in the conduct of any event. The policy is that non-payment results in no service. We have had events in the past where city services were provided without prior payments, making collection more difficult.”

Fraser says glitches are bound to happen with festival planning of this magnitude and commends the dedicated work of the CP team.

“We have all our plans in place. We are expecting record attendance. Everything is on track to roll out exactly as we planned it,” Fraser says. “I’m very proud of my team for pulling together, making a plan, negotiating with city hall and making it work.”