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New Capital Pride to ask for Ottawa civic funding

Festival moves ahead; advertises job postings

Councillor Catherine McKenney (pictured here in 2014) is presenting the new Capital Pride organization’s proposal for the 2015 festival to Ottawa City Council on March 11. Credit: Julie Cruikshank

Councillor Catherine McKenney is presenting the new Pride organization’s proposal for this year’s festival to Ottawa City Council.

McKenney will outline the proposal, which was prepared by a community group partnered with the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA), to Mayor Jim Watson and her fellow city councillors on March 11 in the hopes of securing municipal funding for the 2015 Pride festival.

“I am very hopeful,” says McKenney, a queer councillor who represents Ward 14, a downtown neighbourhood that includes the Village. “The amount will likely be similar to what the former Pride committee received, approximately $36,000.”

Such a confident assertion would have seemed unlikely a few short months ago, with Capital Pride mired in scandal over alleged accounting irregularities and later declaring bankruptcy in January.

“I have a lot of confidence in both the new Pride organization and their partnership with the Bank Street BIA,” McKenney tells Daily Xtra. “It’s amazing that the group has come together with such a strong community presence in the short time that it has.”

Queer realtor Tammy Dopson, the spokesperson for an LGBT community advisory committee, and Christine Leadman, executive director of the BIA, gave a press conference at Ottawa City Hall on Jan 15 to announce their partnership and proposal for Pride. The BIA would have oversight over all the financials while the community advisory committee would set up an “effective governance model” and provide oversight for a new Pride organization as it transitions toward incorporation.

On Feb 24, job advertisements were posted for the Pride festival on a Facebook page called Capital Pride Ottawa.

“The festival producer is a paid position,” Dopson says. “The rest are volunteer positions. The sponsorship co-ordinator, of course, comes with a commission-based scenario. The exact details I think have to be worked out. In years past the sponsorship co-ordinator was always an incentive-based position, like any sales job.”

Even for unpaid volunteer positions, Dopson says it’s important to be careful about who comes on board.

“We’re treating this like any other business,” she says. “The people who are going to be stepping up to volunteer still have to be qualified and have the right spirit. They have to be there for the right reasons and that’s to truly serve the community and serve this event.”

Having a paid festival producer in place, along with the BIA taking formal responsibility for financial expenditures and reporting, will give the festival the stability it needs, says Christine Leadman.

“There is a new effort by the community itself to restructure the organization and take the step to hire a festival producer as opposed to solely volunteers, so you have someone who has the skill set who is going to be able to pull this together,” Leadman says. “Not to say that volunteers didn’t do a great job, but it’s overwhelming and then what happens is oversight then becomes an issue. The BIA will be providing the financial oversight.”

While contracts haven’t yet been signed, Loblaws and Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company are among the sponsors who have expressed interest in coming back, Dopson says.

At a public meeting on Jan 20, community members expressed gratitude to the BIA for its support for the festival, but some attendees also raised concerns that the community advisory committee was closed to new members before some people knew of its existence.

“Our whole mandate is to be inclusive,” Dopson says. “We wouldn’t want it any other way. Otherwise it would seem counter-intuitive to being a rainbow community.”

The group she and Brodie Fraser formed, which later became known as the community advisory committee, first met on Dec 29. Being smack in the middle of holiday season, many of the people they reached out to were unavailable, Dopson says.

Still, Fraser told Daily Xtra on Jan 20 that with a short time frame to get things in place for this year’s festival, group members were chosen partly for their skill sets and their reputations as “diplomats” rather than “warriors.”

“There was never an intent to exclude people, it was more about looking for the people who really would work well in that setting, but that said, everyone has to come to the table at some point,” Dopson says. “Now that we’ve got the basic design down, then we start bringing in other people.”

One of the concerns raised at the Jan 20 community meeting was a lack of youth representation. To address this, Andrew Giguere, who attended the meeting, was invited to join the community advisory committee and is helping to translate documents into French, Dopson says.

Up until this time, media and community members alike have been talking about a “new Pride organization” but Dopson says you can expect to hear the name Capital Pride very soon.

After last year’s first annual general meeting (AGM), she says she did some independent research and discovered Capital Pride’s incorporation papers were outdated and that the festival name of Capital Pride was also not protected.

“Out of interest of protecting it and keeping it in the community I incorporated the name of Capital Pride and also trademarked it,” Dopson says. “Capital Pride itself, the name, had never been trademarked, so essentially anyone could have done what I did.”

Dopson says it’s important the name stay with the festival and she trademarked it to ensure that it does. As the organization moves towards incorporation, the festival and the organization will use the Capital Pride name, she says.

“It is our intention to have both festival and organizing body be of the same name,” Dopson says. “When the final organization is formed, which will hopefully be next year or 2017, then everything will be handed over to them.”

Meanwhile, there’s a festival to plan and McKenney says she’s looking forward to this year’s Pride.

“It would have been awful not to have the opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pride,” McKenney says. “The conviction and passion comes from a generation of fighting for equal rights coupled with a commitment to making sure the next generation is well served. And of course we love a great party!”