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Pride Toronto releases financial statement

Stabilization fund "never existed"

Pride Toronto's executive director Tracey Sandilands. Credit: Jenna Wakani photo

Pride Toronto’s financial statements from the fiscal year 2009 — which ended last July — have finally been released, and they reveal a year of growth, change and controversy. In fiscal year 2008, Pride commanded a budget of close to $2 million, but in 2009 its budget was more than $3 million.

It also posted a deficit — after a modest profit of $41,972 in 2008, in 2009 the organization took a loss of $138,605.

According to Pride Toronto executive director, Tracey Sandilands, three factors are responsible for most of the deficit. The first is the gap in 2008 between the departure of former executive director Fatima Amarshi and Sandilands’ arrival.

“In September, October and November, operations continued,” says Sandilands. “There was a consultant trying to basically run the office and keep everything together.”

The consultant was paid more than Pride’s normal management team — as consultants generally are — so the organization went over budget. The second factor was last summer’s civic workers’ strike.

“We didn’t employ private contractors for the parade; however, we have always employed private contractors for the cleanup,” says Sandilands. “There were significant additional costs associated with garbage cleanup as a result of the strike.”

Last May, National Post reported that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) had been barred from participating in the parade, but within days Pride clarified that the group would be welcome to march, so long as it registered as an official group. At the time, Pride Toronto said QuAIA had marched without registering in the past. (In fact, Xtra reported last spring that QuAIA was not unregistered but was part of CUPE Toronto’s contingent, along with a variety of community organizations.) In any case, Sandilands says part of the deficit is due to “additional security costs to manage the political messaging issue” — more security personnel.

One line of the statement shows a stabilization fund going from $250,000 to nothing between 2008 and 2009. Sandilands says that this stabilization fund in fact never existed. “We don’t know why the previous auditors approved it,” she says.

Sandilands noted that although previous management “made provisions for a stabilization fund, the fund was never actually created, and at the time that I joined the organization we looked at the stabilization fund and found that it didn’t exist. So the fact that it has been removed from the books is purely to make the situation accurate.”

As for the long delay in releasing these financial statements, Sandilands noted that Pride’s books were ready for auditing in September, and Blair Spinney, a partner at the auditors, Adams & Miles LLP, confirmed that the audit began Sep 29.

“The audit was longer, as our firm was new to the audit, and most of the staff at Pride was new this year as well,” says Spinney. “Given the limited resources of an organization of this size, the office move and the successful World Pride bid in the interim, the financial statements weren’t issued for board approval until December 17.”

One cryptic section of the statements notes that Pride is “subject to a dispute with a supplier regarding contract fees,” and that $10,000 has been set aside for a possible settlement. Sandilands confirmed that a settlement has not been finalized but would not comment on the circumstances of the dispute. Whatever its nature, the settlement affects only a small proportion of Pride’s budget.

See Pride Toronto’s 2009 financial statement here.