Vancouver City Council passed a motion Sept 19 asking staff to examine the possibility of granting civic event status to the Pride parade, as well the Vaisakhi and Lunar New Year celebrations.
“I hope we have a unanimous vote to move this on to staff, and then, obviously, staff will come back by January of 2013 so that hopefully this will be in place for the Chinese New Year’s celebration, as well as Vaisakhi and the Pride parade,” Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson, who introduced the motion, told council in his opening remarks.
The motion was supported by all Vision councillors in attendance, as well as by Green Party Councillor Adriane Carr and Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Councillor Elizabeth Ball. NPA Councillor George Affleck voted against it.
“During the NPA’s election campaign, we actually had this as a part of our election platform,” Affleck said. “And Councillor Stevenson said, I quote, ‘There is no room for that in the budget, no wiggle room. The budget is pared down enormously to keep taxes down.’ So I’m just wondering where there is some wiggle room now for us to designate all three festivals. Where will that money come from?”
Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer, who chaired the meeting, told Affleck that they would first need to pass the motion before staff could answer his question.
City staff will now prepare a report for council that will investigate the options for granting civic status and consider best practices in other cities, with respect to funding and revenue sharing for major events.
Ball proposed an unsuccessful amendment to the motion that would replace the first paragraph, which specifically mentions Pride, Vaisakhi and the Lunar New Year, with two paragraphs calling for staff to examine a transparent evaluation process for civic events, as well as the financial implications of conferring civic event status.
“My intent was very clear,” Ball said. “It’s not ‘stop the Pride parade,’ but to make it an actual civic event that fulfills the criteria that has been set forward by the city.
“I think that gives it a very different feeling than something that just comes from above,” she continued. “I think it’s really important for the whole city of Vancouver to understand why it’s important to bring something like Pride parades forward and have the support of the whole city, that they understand what the recommendation be, what the criteria is, how were they able to become an organization that merits civic status.”
Stevenson said the NPA was just trying to “derail a straightforward motion.”
“As far as being tremendously supportive, as Councillor Ball has been about the Pride parade and all of the events, I would like to remind Councillor Ball that during her term on council, when Mayor Sullivan was in, there was not one Pride event that was at city hall,” Stevenson said in a heated exchange. “In fact, all of them were ceased and any motion that I brought forward was put down. You shake your head, but you obviously do not remember correctly.”
Stevenson said that nothing happened with respect to Pride events at city hall until Larry Campbell and the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) were elected in 2002. “It took a change to bring that about, and when the NPA got back in everything got wiped aside,” he said. “So excuse me if I’m a little gun shy when you want an amendment with motions dealing with Pride and Vaisakhi and also the Chinese New Year.”
Ball told Xtra that she attended “numerous” events within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities when the NPA held a majority on council and said the entire NPA caucus was very supportive of Pride.
Carr proposed an unsuccessful amendment that would have added Ball’s amendment to Stevenson’s motion without eliminating the original wording.
“I absolutely fully support the motion by Councillor Stevenson and want to see Pride given civic status,” Carr said, “but I believe that having an outline or criteria for different events being granted civic status is really good for the future so that other festivals and events could consider applying for the civic status and they’d know the ground rules.”