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City opposes Davie St fest

BIA forges ahead with proposal for Pride

James Steck believes we can pull off a Davie St festival for Pride. Credit: Matt Mills photo

The Davie Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) wants to run a street festival on Davie St during this year’s Pride celebration but neither the city nor the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) supports the idea.

The BIA recently ran ads outlining a proposal that would include closing Davie St between Jervis and Burrard from 2 pm-10 pm on Pride day, Jul 31. There would be two concert stages, concession booths and a $2 voluntary cover charge to enter the area.

“A street festival is something people have been wanting for a long time,” says BIA president James Steck. “The one we had at the PumpJack was popular and we really need to do something for the merchants along Davie St during Pride.”

The last Pride street festival on Davie St took place in 2003. Xtra West reported an overwhelming level of support in the community for that event, despite some delays in getting the street closed and the beer flowing.

The VPS ran that street festival in partnership with the PumpJack Pub, but despite its popularity, the event on its own was a big financial loser. It cost $49,728 to run but generated only $24,933, which resulted in a $24,795 loss.

The BIA doesn’t have money in its current budget to pay for a street festival, but Steck is confident he can raise sponsorships and enough $2 donations to cover the costs. He says he’s already arranged for free staging. “I wouldn’t run an event if I didn’t think it would make money,” he says.

Vancouver’s film and special events manager says the city hasn’t yet received an application for the event from the BIA, but that a Davie St festival on Pride day this year would be problematic.

“We have major concerns regarding the timing,” says Muriel Honey. “It involves the closure of a busy street at a very busy time of year. We have the Pride Parade and the Celebration of Light happening at the same time. There are liquor licensing, street closure and policing issues, and with everything happening at once we simply lack the resources for all these events.”

Honey says even if the BIA were to submit an application immediately, there may not be enough time to consider it. She says the city starts working with the VPS in January and it’s likely too late to pull a Davie St festival together for Pride day 2005.

Steck says the BIA pulled last year’s Davie Day celebration together in about three weeks, that there was a street fair on Davie on Pride day in 2003 and that he already has tentative bookings for staging and entertainers for this year.

VPS president Shawn Ewing says she’s disappointed the BIA is exploring this idea now because it’s further complicating the rest of this year’s Pride preparations. She says earlier in the year, the VPS looked into the idea of running a street festival and decided against it because the VPS board felt the financial risks and logistical complications were too great.

“We’ve spoken with the BIA about this on several occasions over the past year,” she says. “The one thing we asked of them is if they want to do something on Davie St that they wait until after 6 pm on Pride Sunday or they choose another day during Pride week.”

Ewing says although the plans for this year’s Pride are coming together very well, the BIA’s ads have made it awkward for the VPS in its dealings with sponsors and vendors who are now asking if there is yet another change to this year’s pride celebration coming down the pipe.

Steck says he sees the BIA plan as complementing the VPS Pride celebrations rather than competing with them.

“I hope it doesn’t look like a division in the community,” he says. “But the community wants a festival on Davie St on Pride day. If we can’t do it this year, then we have to look at it for the future.”

The BIA wants community input on the idea of a Davie St festival on Pride day and encourages anyone interested to contact them before May 15.