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Toronto wins World Pride bid for 2014

'The most obvious impact this event will have is on the economy'

PARTY AT OUR PLACE. This year organizers estimate that Toronto Pride fest drew some 750,000 tourists to the city. World Pride in 2014 could draw millions. Credit: Peter Bevan

Think Toronto Pride couldn’t get any bigger? Think again.

On Oct 18 it was announced that in 2014 Toronto will play host to World Pride, a semiannual event licensed by InterPride, the international association of Pride coordinators.

“This triumph for Pride Toronto will not only be beneficial to the community, but will also have a greatly positive outcome for Toronto, for Ontario and, in some ways, for all of Canada,” stated Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands in a press release following the announcement. “Of course, the most obvious impact this event will have is on the economy.”

Organizers estimate that this year’s Pride festival drew nearly 750,000 tourists to the city, injecting $136-million into the city’s economy and directly supporting 762 full-time jobs. How many more attendees can Toronto expect for the international edition of the party? Early estimates range from an additional 25,000 to several million, with a corresponding influx in tourist dollars.

The cost to put on Toronto’s World Pride party in 2014 is also expected to jump. In 2009 the 10-day fest cost approximately $4-million; the proposed budget for 2014 — which will run from Jun 27 to Jul 6 to take advantage of both the Canada Day and US fourth of July holidays — is $11-million.

“Having millions of people visit the city can create new jobs within the organization to prepare for the event itself,” states Mark Singh, former Pride cochair and chair of the World Pride bid committee, “but it will also create more opportunities for workers in city services, retail, restaurants, hospitality and healthcare, just to name a few.”

The World Pride vote took place at an InterPride conference in St Petersburg, Florida, which welcomed 150 delegates from Pride committees around the globe.

On the Friday night of the four-day conference Toronto’s 10-person bid team — which included Toronto Tourism president David Whitaker and representatives from Toronto Police Services and sponsor TD Canada Trust — hosted a cocktail reception for delegates with a performance by Canadian R’n’B singer Deborah Cox, who headlined Toronto’s 2009 Pride fest.

Two days later Toronto beat out Stockholm in the first round of voting with 77 ballots cast for Toronto and 61 for the Swedish capital — the second time Stockholm has lost its bid, after losing to London in 2008 for the 2012 event. Although that left Toronto as the only remaining contender, a second round of voting took place with a yes/no question because InterPride requires a two-thirds majority vote in choosing World Pride host cities. Toronto took the second vote with 78 percent in favour.

In addition to Toronto’s regular Pride offerings, the proposal for World Pride 2014 includes an opening ceremony with a parade of nations, a three-day human rights conference, a wall of remembrance in honour of the 45th anniversary of Stonewall and a reunion of former international grand marshals. The plan also includes a closing ceremony, to follow the Sunday Pride Parade.

World Pride was launched in 2000 with an event in Rome. The second World Pride was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem in 2006, but was badly disrupted due to regional conflict.