COUNCIL HELPS PRIDE-AGAIN
The president of the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) says this year’s parade and festivals should break even, thanks in part to a last-minute grant from city hall. Council had already given the VPS a $6,000 Celebration grant for the parade earlier this year; it added another $8,000 grant Jul 29. The new grant is part of a council move to support Vancouver’s three largest parades-Pride, Vaisakhi and the Chinese New Year-by covering half their city costs. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” Shawn Ewing says. “It reaffirms the fantastic support we’ve received from city hall this year.” And this is just the beginning, promises gay city councillor Tim Stevenson. Next year, council plans to cover half the Pride Parade’s city costs again. In 2002, the VPS had to pay the city more than $15,000 in engineering, traffic, police and sanitation fees for the parade. This year, after the grants, Ewing says the parade’s city costs should be closer to $3,000, not counting BC ambulance fees.
In related news, councillor Ellen Woodsworth organized Pride celebrations at city hall Jul 31, including the first-ever raising of the Pride flag.
CPCS REMAIN INDEPENDENT
Vancouver police have quietly backed down on a proposal to dissolve the city’s independent community policing societies-and replace their elected directors with chief-appointed advisors. That means Davie’s Community Policing Centre (CPC) will not only remain open but keep its independent, elected decision-makers, as well. “It’s definitely a victory,” says Jim Deva, vice-president of the Davie CPC and a founding member of the gay safety committee. “I’m really pleased that we get to keep our [independent society].”
The proposal to dissolve the society surfaced in February, after Chief Constable Jamie Graham announced plans to restructure the city’s 18 CPCs. Many community-policing advocates immediately objected. They said the chief’s plan to replace the CPCs’ elected directors with hand-picked advisors would undermine each community’s ability to truly shape policing priorities in their areas. “I don’t want to advise,” Deva told Xtra West at the time. “I want to work as a partner to solve problems. I don’t think it’s community policing without an elected board,” he added.
“If community policing is going to work at any level, it has to involve the community and the police working in partnership.”
Ron Stipp agreed. “A chief-appointed advisory board is a ridiculous concept,” he said in April. “We’re talking about our community. Those are the people who should be driving community policing-not someone from the [VPD’s] head office on Cambie St.”
Now, it seems Deva, Stipp and the rest of the community policing advocates are getting their way. Though the city is closing all but seven of its CPCs, the surviving centres will remain open and independent, the police board decided a few weeks ago.
“We actually won this battle,” Deva says. “Now it’s up to us to use this new enfranchisement” to tackle the community’s problems, such as gaybashings. The Davie CPC’s annual general meeting will take place in late September and Deva is urging all West Enders to attend.
WARD SYSTEM COMING
The new COPE-dominated city council moved last week on a promise made to Vancouver’s gay and lesbian community and other visible-minority and geographic communities: to switch to a ward system of election. Moving to wards has been a promise of centre-left civic parties in Vancouver since the 1930s, when the NPA abolished the ward system to prevent voters from electing a leftwing municipal government. In last year’s municipal election, COPE promised the gay community it would consider a ward system if elected. A ward system would make it likely that at least once city councillor is gay. Council has appointed an electoral commission to recommend whether to move wholly to a ward system or a system that blends at-large representatives with ward representatives. The commission will also consider ward boundaries.
AIDS VANCOUVER DAY
City council proclaimed Aug 1 to be AIDS Vancouver day, in recognition of the organization’s 20th anniversary. AIDS Vancouver celebrated its birthday by launching Gayway, its new gay men’s health program focussing, among other things, on HIV prevention.
COUNCIL HELPS PRIDE-AGAIN