News that Grandview Park will be under construction this summer is forcing the Vancouver Dyke March and Festival Society (VDM) to find a new location for its annual Pride celebrations.
In keeping with tradition, the march and festival – now entering its seventh year – is scheduled for the Saturday of Pride weekend, and falls on July 31 this year. But construction at the Commercial Dr park, the usual endpoint of the march and the site of the subsequent festival, is due to start in July and continue until March 2011.
Discussions about potential march-route changes and finding a new festival site will top the agenda of the next VDM board meeting, scheduled for April 7.
“It kind of came up as a bit of a surprise for the Parks Board and for us as well on how quickly they’re moving forward with Grandview,” VDM president Sam Levy told Xtra on April 1.
“The intention was to do [the construction] a lot later, but they got some lucky budget approval and basically needed to get it done in the 2010 calendar year as I understand it, so that really sped up their timeline,” Levy says.
She says VDM’s board has had some initial exchanges with the Vancouver Park Board about alternative arrangements, adding, “It’s something that we’ll work on as a board and work on with the city and park board as well.”
Levy says the goal is to remain on Commercial Dr and to ensure any changes have “the least amount of impact [on] the march and festival crowd.”
Acting event coordinator at the parks board Dave Rieberger confirms he’s had initial conversations with the VDM.
“We really would need to sit down with them and find out what they need and what parks are available, and sit down with the city as well,” Rieberger says.
“It’s a little bit too early to say there are other options,” he acknowledges. “I know there will be some other options, I just can’t identify what they might be because we need to sit down with Sam,” he adds.
COPE city councillor Ellen Woodsworth says she knew the park development was going ahead, and there have been a number of public meetings for the community about the planned reconstruction.
“Nobody raised the question of the Dyke March, so I was just assuming that we’d have a slightly different route,” she says.
“I don’t think it should affect the march at all,” Woodsworth adds. “I think we just need to re-route it a bit.”
Woodsworth says she’ll “certainly” talk with parks board commissioners about using other parks in the Commercial Dr area. She points to Victoria Park as one of several options.
“I think that we need for the Dyke March to go on. It’s a very, very important part of Pride,” Woodsworth concludes.