3 min

Hellyar confirms rainbows coming down

'I would be very upset if they change the face of the Davie Village': Stevenson

Credit: Sarah Race photo

One week after the West End Business Improvement Association’s (WEBIA) executive director revealed her intention to remove Davie St’s rainbow flags, Lyn Hellyar refused to discuss the matter further at WEBIA’s annual general meeting, Jul 3.

The meeting was originally scheduled for Jun 26 but had to be postponed due to lack of attendance.

Jennifer Breakspear, interim executive director of The Centre, was the only participant at the reconvened meeting to broach the prospective removal of the rainbow banners from the heart of the gay village.

But when Breakspear asked for an update on the issue, Hellyar hastily told her that the banners were not on the agenda.

The rest of the meeting moved quickly from WEBIA’s plan to seek a mandate renewal from its members in September; to its proposed budget for next year (pending renewal); to the announcement of its new board of directors, as selected by an internal committee. No nominations for directors were taken from the floor, and no election was held.

The newly selected directors are: Ravi Sidoo, owner of the Coast Plaza Hotel on Denman St; Susan Anderson, general manager of Sandman Suites on Davie; Tina Goodwin, owner of Three Graces Fashion on Robson; Brinder Bains, owner of COBS Bread; Feyoun Khan, regional vice —president of Diamond Parking; Calvin Deschene, assistant general manager of the Listel Hotel on Robson; and Stephanie Jackson of Marble Slab Creamery on Denman.

On the board for a second term are: Jim Deva, co —owner of Little Sister’s Bookstore; Robert Graham from Momentum Grooming; Craig Norris —Jones of the Coast Plaza Hotel; and Michel Duprat.

Leaving the board are James Steck, the gay chair of the promotions committee, and lesbian president Renata Aebi.

Steck, who manages promotions for Celebrities nightclub, says it was time to move on. “I’ve been on that board close to six years and I think I have done my volunteer time.”

While the promotions committee was responsible for taking the rainbow banners down for the triathlon in May, Steck says it was his decision to put the rainbow banners back up after the event.

Outside the meeting, Hellyar confirmed the rainbow banners will “come down at some point.”

She also revealed that she had never planned to put the rainbow flags back up after the triathlon.

In an impromptu interview with Xtra West, she explained that the triathlon banners were supposed to fly longer and the new banners were then supposed to go up in their place. But since the triathlon banners came down sooner than originally planned, the new banners were not yet ready to go up.

So the rainbows had to go back up temporarily — which cost WEBIA more money, she noted.

As for the new banners, Hellyar says she is not yet ready to reveal their design.

Steck says he doesn’t know when the rainbow banners will be removed, but says their permanent removal did not influence his decision to leave the board.

Hellyar says the rainbow banners will not come down again until WEBIA’s proposed new flagpoles are ready for installation.

“Our plan is to put 18 Pride flags on Davie St,” she told Xtra West last issue.

Peter Vaisbord, BIA coordinator for the city, has confirmed that talks with the city regarding the flagpole proposal are planned.

But Vancouver’s gay city councillor says this is the first he’s heard of any plan to put flagpoles on Davie St.

Tim Stevenson says he hasn’t received any request from WEBIA regarding any flagpoles and stresses this type of request would have to go through council before it could be approved. “You can’t just go around sticking flagpoles on city streets,” he says.

Tom Timm, manager of engineering for the city, says he’s aware that a verbal proposal for the flagpoles has been made. But the city told Hellyar she must prepare a written request before any decisions can be made, he says.

To date, Timm says no written requests have been presented to the city.

“They are putting the cart before the horse,” Stevenson says. “Council is going to want to have a look at it.”

This was not the intent of city council when it approved the Davie Village BIA’s expansion, he adds.

“They [WEBIA] would be very foolish not to take input from the community,” Stevenson cautions. “They would be extremely foolish now that we just gave them permission to expand.”

While Stevenson admits he knew of the rainbows’ temporary removal for the triathlon, he says he was shocked to learn of WEBIA’s plan to permanently take them down.

“I would be very upset if they turn around and change the face of the Davie Village,” he says. “That would concern me greatly if that were coming to council. I’ve worked hard to ensure that the Davie Village has been known as the GLBT community and the rainbow flag is a part of that. I would be very, very concerned.”