Commercial Dr’s Grandview Park, long-time home of the annual Dyke March festival, has reopened to the public after a yearlong renovation. Yet, despite the park’s renewed availability, the Dyke March board isn’t sure it wants to move back to its original post-march celebration site.
“We’ve made no decision to move back to Grandview,” says board member Michelle Fortin. “During our board meeting last week we had a conversation about where we will have the march and festival, and basically we were all very clear that we were not clear.” The construction at Grandview Park pushed the Dyke March festival to nearby Victoria Park for the past two years. The board says the change in venue sat well with community members. “We got feedback that people really liked Victoria Park,” Fortin says.
Councillor Ellen Woodsworth says she would like to see the festival back at Grandview but adds that alternating locations could foster more community diversity.
“I have lived two blocks away [from Grandview Park] for 32 years,” Woodsworth says. “I’ve used this park in so many ways, as has the community. We’ve had rallies here, we’ve had dances, we’ve had celebrations here. But you know, it’s always fun to relocate events to different neighbourhoods,” she suggests.
“The more we can liberate this city and make it queer-friendly, the better,” she continues. “I think rotating these events is a way to do that.”
“To a certain degree I agree with her,” says Fortin. But the energy and time spent planning rotating locations could negatively affect annual festival participation, she says.
“Moving venues means that the population needs to be really well informed, and that would be our challenge,” she says.
Fortin says the board, which brought on new members last year and now has a full executive committee, will spend the next six months reaching out to the community, asking where the public wants future festivals held.
The Dyke March team also plans to host more women-centred activities throughout the year and is considering events such as dog-walking excursions, women-only dining-out evenings and various community workshops and conferences.
Regardless of whether the Dyke March returns to Grandview Park, Mayor Gregor Robertson says queer events are “an important part of this park’s history.”
“Eastside Pride and Dyke March have been synonymous with Grandview Park, and I fully expect that they [queer event organizers] will claim this new park as a great space to use,” Robertson told Xtra at Grandview’s reopening ceremony on Sept 17.
“I hope that the queer community feels inspired to bring this park back to life,” he says.