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Ottawa approves $36,000 for 2015 Capital Pride

Dopson hopes city funding will add legitimacy to festival

Ottawa Councillor Catherine McKenney. Credit: Julie Cruikshank

The City of Ottawa has approved $36,000 of funding for this year’s Pride festival.

City council unanimously passed the 2015 budget on March 11, which included funding for the Pride festival under the parks and recreation budget. The funding will go to the new Capital Pride organization, which is a partnership between a community group led by queer realtor Tammy Dopson and the Bank Street Business Improvement Area (BIA).

“It was taken from the one-time unforeseen account, recognizing that this is just for this year because the new committee that came together with the Bank Street BIA as partners had missed that deadline for cultural funding,” says Councillor Catherine McKenney, who represents Somerset Ward, a downtown neighbourhood that includes the Village. “That’s what that account is for, to support our one-off, unforeseen events. The staff in cultural services have a lot of experience working with festival groups and were quick to recommend that they supported this initiative.”

The City of Ottawa is listed in the former Pride organization’s bankruptcy papers as being owed $7,717. The trustee for the bankruptcy told Daily Xtra it’s unlikely creditors will get their money back. Still, McKenney says she didn’t encounter any skepticism when she was looking for support for this year’s Pride festival.

“I didn’t receive any hesitation, certainly not from staff and even my council colleagues understood that this is a new group coming together,” she says. “We want to make sure that we have our 30th anniversary celebration. They’re partnering with Bank Street BIA, which will provide that financial oversight, so there was no hesitation.”

The $36,000 of funding was included as part of the parks and recreation budget, so McKenney didn’t have to present a motion in council, she says.

Dopson says the funding is wonderful news, but adds there’s a lot of work to do to plan this year’s festival.

“I’m hoping that [the city funding] gives us a legitimacy within the business community, within the Ottawa community, but most importantly our own community and makes them realize that there is actually somebody at the helm of this year’s festival who’s willing to push it forward,” Dopson says. “Now all we need is for [community members] to jump on board and start stepping up and volunteering.”

She encourages community members to look at the job postings on Facebook and Twitter for festival producer and volunteer lead and co-ordinating positions. Applications for these positions are due on March 20. 

“I’m very optimistic, but due to our focus on getting [funding] approval and getting the structure in place, we haven’t had the reach that we wanted in the community in terms of making everyone aware that these jobs are available and they do require you to actually send in a resumé and talk to us,” Dopson says. “Our biggest concern is that people might be slightly daunted by the system, even though it’s meant really to benefit everyone. We set up a system where you’re vetted and hired like any other job because we think that this festival requires a certain level of skill but also a certain type of person.”

While experience is important, Capital Pride isn’t necessarily looking for people with the longest resumés, she says. The ability and willingness to work as part of a team is crucial, along with being motivated, motivating and not being daunted by a compressed time frame, Dopson says.

“We’re open to anyone and everyone,” she says. “Even if your experience is not in the position you want, step up because there are assistant positions for each one of those jobs.”