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Pride parade to bypass Parliament

Rising costs force route to turn corners

It makes for a great Pride. Thousands of people crowding the sidewalks, vibrant floats with thumping music, party-goers and a street full of proud participants. But that greatness comes at a price, and this year’s parade participants will not be marching in front of Parliament.

Doug Saunders-Riggins is the chair of Capital Pride.

“Because of the size of our parade now, we cannot have a partial closure on Wellington St. We have to do a complete road closure, and in order to do a complete closure on Wellington St it would cost about $32,000,” he says.

Last year the police did what was called a rolling closure.

One side of Wellington St (from east to west) remained open to traffic while the other side (from west to east) was closed for the parade. 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.

A partial closure requires only nine police officers, whereas, according to Saunders-Riggins, a full closure requires 32.

Saunders-Riggins also says there was a safety issue. Last year, the fact that one side of Wellington St remained open to cars was a concern, particularly since someone was nearly run over.

“That’s another reason why we can’t do a rolling closure,” says Saunders-Riggins. “I know there’s the whole ‘We want to be in front of Parliament Hill,’ but I am sorry, people’s safety trumps symbolism every time.”

The parade’s symbolism will be trumped at Bank St, after passing the Supreme Court of Canada. It will then make its way down Bank St before turning onto Laurier Ave toward City Hall.

Both Bank and Laurier streets will be fully closed except in two places (at Bank and Albert and at Bank and Slater), to allow access for OC Transpo.

Saunders-Riggins says that he feels this year’s parade will be more accessible to onlookers.

“Last year the people on the other side of Wellington St had to overlook the cars in order to see the parade. It was absolutely horrible. Once we get to Bank St we’ve got a complete closure,” he says.

Saunders-Riggins is quick to point out that the Capital Pride Committee has to foot the entire cost of the police redirecting traffic and closing the streets. The other city parade that regularly marches in front of Parliament is the Santa Clause Parade in November.

“The fire department and the police department volunteer their time to do it; we [Capital Pride] pay for the police,” he says.

Saunders-Riggins did not have the amount Capital Pride paid for the partial closure in 2010 available. However, Capital Pride’s 2009 annual report states the cost of the police (excluding private security and insurance) was $6,163.