The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) is about to unveil its plans for Pride 2006. Xtra West caught up with VPS president John Boychuck Feb 7 for an update and a sneak peek.
“We are in final budget review,” says Boychuck. “It’s been a lot of hard work. We’re really sticking to the business and trying to create budgets that are balanced.”
Boychuck is mum on the complete details of the VPS’s plans until the official unveiling Feb 16, but he did give Xtra West a few clues. He says the Stonewall festival held on Commercial Dr will be re-branded as Eastside Pride in an effort to foster more of a local identity for that event.
He says the VPS is in talks with Vancity to help with a new event to be called A Taste of Pride. “We found that after 10 years, the community wanted something fresh,” says Boychuck. “We’re pretty close to having something that’s a little more unique.”
Boychuck says the VPS also approached the city to see how an event on the Saturday of Pride Weekend could work. He says the city rejected the idea for this year because the annual fireworks display takes precedence and Vancouver lacks the resources to manage both events on the same day.
But the city invited the VPS to submit a three-year plan that outlines a vision for the future of Pride, adds Boychuck. “They want to work with us to actually create something that will expand on the activities for more than just one day.”
Amid accusations last year that the VPS was not responsive to the queer community, and after backing off a controversial plan to move the parade from its traditional route thorough the West End, the VPS launched an online survey.
“The survey came up in pretty much all the committee meetings and board meetings with regards to what people were looking for,” says Boychuck. “It was really good as a learning tool.”
The survey shows strong support for keeping the parade on its traditional route, but most overwhelmingly, it shows respondents want beer gardens. The VPS is still in negotiations to open beer gardens, but has no plans to move the parade.
Boychuk says he’s working with the city to expand the parade route a couple of blocks at each end in an effort to relieve crowding in the staging and tear-down areas.
He also says the VPS has prepared another online survey that should be available on its new website as Xtra West goes to press. “Because it was the first survey for us, we didn’t have enough experience,” Boychuk says. “We worked with several professionals on this next survey to really get some fine-tuned results.”
When the dust settled after a successful 2005 celebration, the VPS was on solid financial footing having posted a surplus of almost $24,000. The one piece of business that was left unfinished at the annual general meeting Oct 22 was official adoption of the society’s financial statements for 2005.
Although the statements were ready for membership review, the previous board had submitted the books for a routine independent audit, which wasn’t complete in time for the meeting.
Boychuck says the audit is now complete and that the VPS will announce a general meeting of VPS members to be held in the first weeks of March so they can officially accept the statements.
Boychuck says the books as submitted in October were accurate. “They’re in great shape,” he says. “At the end of the day, there was a 37-cent discrepancy. Somewhere along the line someone changed one little wrong number on the very edge.”