UPDATE JUNE 10: Major’s Hill Park and Confederation are no-go areas for the Pride festival, says Delores MacAdam, program manager for the City of Ottawa.
“We have talked to the NCC to see what parks would be available. Unfortunately, the two that would suit their events are not available on those dates,” says MacAdam.
Members of Capital Pride’s board will be meeting with MacAdam and other staff on Monday, June 13 to find a new location for the festival’s weekend festivities.
“We’ve offered several locations for them to hold their event. One of them is Lisgar fields” behind city hall, says MacAdam. “We think that is one of the better solutions, and of course, we could also consider shutting down Lisgar St if we had to.”
MacAdam adds that the festival will still be able to use the facilities at city hall.
MacAdam says the city has offered Capital Pride several other locations, including Lansdowne Park, but she understands the need for the festival to be downtown.
Pride is the only event that has yet to be relocated. Seven other events scheduled to use Marion Dewar Plaza are smaller and have already found new venues.
“We’ll get through this. As I say, we have accommodated everyone — everyone is pleased with the accommodation and we will find a solution with this. I am certain we will,” MacAdam says.
JUNE 9: Ottawa’s post-parade Pride party will be cancelled unless a new venue can be found, organizers say. The news comes after city council voted to begin construction of the Rink of Dreams at Marion Dewar Plaza at the beginning of July, a move that has ousted Pride from its regular digs.
The decision is potentially disastrous for Capital Pride celebrations.
“The best case scenario that we are looking at right now is that we are trying to negotiate with the NCC [National Capital Commission] to see if we could use Major’s Hill Park behind Chateau Laurier,” says Doug Saunders-Riggins, chair of Capital Pride. “The worst-case scenario is that Pride Day is going to be cancelled.”
Saunders-Riggins says finding a location is the biggest problem, and until a suitable place is found all planning has been put on hold. He says that with two months until the festival, Capital Pride’s only hope is to find some sort of alternative.
“We are hoping we are going to be able to find some kind of middle ground where we are going to be able to find a location that’s big enough for us to run the festival but still do it in a way that’s going to be logistically possible,” says Saunders-Riggins.
Returning to Bank St — where the festival was held for a half dozen years, ending in 2004 — is logistically impossible, Saunders-Riggins says. He says that with the current scheduling for Pride weekend, Bank St would have to be closed from Friday evening to Sunday night.
Saunders-Riggins says that with preparations underway, contracts signed and supplies ordered, any cancellations would come with a heavy price.
“We stand to lose a lot of money because basically Pride Day will not happen if we don’t get this resolved,” he says.
He says that Capital Pride will make an announcement on what the resolution is at the Pride media launch on June 21.