The rising cost of policing and road closures means this year’s Capital Pride parade will once again not pass in front of the Parliament buildings.
Some community members say this is a missed opportunity to pack a political punch by demonstrating in front of Centre Block.
“It is really unfortunate that economics is being used to override the very integrity of why we gather to celebrate Pride, and that is to politically assert ourselves. Particularly at the very symbolic location at which decision-making is carried out in this country: the Parliament buildings,” says Nick Mulé, the chair of Queer Ontario.
The Capital Pride parade marched in front of Parliament until 2011.
“The right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble should not be trumped by barriers, whether they be economic or the Harper government’s distaste for dissent. This silencing tactic needs to be challenged systemically and creatively,” Mulé says.
But Capital Pride chair Loresa Novy says the board of directors is happy with the current route. She says the parade’s route down Laurier Ave makes for an equally powerful experience.
“While it’s nice to pass Parliament Hill because it’s such a large space, it tends to get lost,” she says. “We found that going down Laurier, you can feel the energy from the people and it’s a very powerful experience.”
Past chair Doug Saunders says rising police costs meant Capital Pride could not afford to continue making the journey past Parliament.
“It cost too much money. It was going to cost about another eight to nine thousand dollars to close off both sides of the street in front of Parliament Hill,” he says. “You have to pay for policing; you have to pay for road closures . . . It was just too expensive.”
In 2010, the last year the parade did venture by Parliament, police implemented a rolling closure of Wellington St. One side remained open to traffic while the opposing side, from west to east, was closed. As the parade made its way down the main drag, one section of the street was closed at a time, with the police “rolling over” each other to shut down the next section.
However, in a 2011 interview with Xtra, Saunders said someone was almost hit on Wellington St during the 2010 parade when a rolling closure was in use.
The Capital Pride parade kicks off at the Garden of Provinces Sunday, Aug 26 at 1pm. See the Ultimate Pride Guide for more details.