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Dyke March rallies

Venus Envy to foot bill for cops

A requirement that the Dyke March pay $1000 in policing costs momentarily put organizers off balance, but they’ve rallied with the help of Ottawa’s queer community.

Venus Envy, a women-focussed sex shop and bookstore, will pay for the services of two police officers, totalling $1000, and the Ottawa Police Service will waive the fee for a third officer — the equivalent of a $500 donation.

Meanwhile, Capital Pride has agreed to extend its insurance to cover the Dyke March, saving the march an additional $1000.

The Lesbian Outdoor Group and Capital Xtra — plus a few private donors — have also stepped up to the plate, says Dyke March treasurer Catherine Purdie.

“We’re still beating down the bushes,” she says. “We try to get enough to cover our costs and put down a bit of a seed for the next year. The fundraising is going well, but we could always use more,” she says.

Shelley Taylor, owner of Venus Envy, has helped the Dyke March before. She says she decided to increase her donation as soon a she heard that the Dyke March needed help to cover costs.

“I feel like, because it’s the women’s community that supports Venus Envy, and the dyke, bi and trans women’s community is a big part of that, it was a really easy decision,” she says.

Purdie says the remainder of the shortfall — about $1000 — will likely come in through smaller personal donations. And, with one month to go before the march, Purdie says it’s been heartening to see people making a contribution.

“It’s been really good. People are rolling up their sleeves and helping out in any way they can,” says Purdie. “It’s a really good feeling.”

This is the first year the Dyke March is required to pay for officers, despite the fact that there has always been a police presence at the event. The city says the service wasn’t paid for before because it slipped through the cracks.

If they want to have free events, [LA1]organizations like the Dyke March have to decide whether they want to grow or stay small, says special events Sgt Denis Charbonneau.

“[The Dyke March] used to be a sidewalk march,” says Charbonneau. “If you grow, you need officers. And it’s grown to the point where they have to hire police officers.”

—with files from Neil McKinnon