With Pride poised to mark its 30th anniversary next year, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is exploring potential changes to the parade route.
VPS president John Boychuk says changes may be necessary due to the parade’s increasingly large crowds.
There’s been “lots of gossip” about options already, but “nothing concrete” is on the drawing board, he says.
“We’re going to examine, first off, the potential parade route that can be used,” Boychuk says. “Based on that, [we’ll look at] the marshalling area and what it can handle, and the amount of time the streets would stay closed based on the numbers.”
The VPS will be “taking our guidance from the city,” he adds.
“We’ve talked about the success of the parade once again, [and] it’s a very confined space for that large a parade,” the city’s special events manager Muriel Honey acknowledges.
“We want everybody to be able to enjoy it, and enjoy it safely, and that would mean extending it somehow,” she continues. “Whether that’s a total change of route, or a partial change of route, or an extension of the route or what, we don’t know. But we did agree that we need to talk about it sooner this year, both because of the 30th coming up and because it takes time to plan these.”
Honey says the city is open to “whatever [the VPS] might want to suggest.”
Boychuk says the VPS has yet to meet with city staff to debrief about this year’s festivities because of the city strike.
Asked to elaborate on the options being discussed within the VPS, Boychuk is vague. “We’re saying maybe we’ll stay, maybe we’ll extend it, maybe we’ll go a different route, maybe we’ll do a big circle. It’s maybe, maybe, maybe,” he emphasizes.
A plan to change the parade’s traditional West End route in 2005 set off a storm of protest within the community, and was eventually withdrawn.
Then-VPS president Shawn Ewing said the impetus for the aborted Plaza of Nations route was to create more room to accommodate the growing crowds, as well as to hold the festival at a site that was accessible for both the disabled and people from other neighbourhoods.
But city councillor Tim Stevenson said at the time that the change could split the community, while former parade organizer Alan Herbert called the proposed move “a dangerous gamble.”