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Vancouver Pride preparations on track, new president says

VPS invigorated by its interim board: Richards

"I think things are going well," says Vancouver Pride Society president Tim Richards. "We've got a great team of people." Credit: Jess Munitz photo

Despite a difficult start to 2012 — when a majority of Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) members voted in March to nullify the January election results and oust the previous directors — preparations are on track for this summer’s celebrations, says the organization’s new president.

The VPS has been invigorated by its new interim board, staff and parade committee, Tim Richards says.

“I think things are going well. I’m very pleased. I think everyone fits,” he says. “We’ve got a great team of people. There’s so much passion from everyone involved.”

The VPS has already reached its sponsorship goal of $180,000, Richards notes.

“It’s been good. We’ve hit our target from last year in sponsorship, so that’s wonderful,” he says, adding the VPS has also received a special-events grant from the city.

Barb Floden, a spokesperson for the City of Vancouver, confirms the city awarded the VPS a $20,000 grant for Pride.

Richards says the VPS has also partnered with local microbrewery R&B Brewing to launch a beer made specifically for Pride. The brew, fittingly called G’Ale, will be available at all Pride celebrations and in select private beer and wine stores throughout the city.

Barry Benson, a partner at the brewery, confirms the beer will be available for Pride. “It’s a good fit for us,” Benson says. Pride is “a big part of Vancouver, so it’s good to be involved.”

Benson says R&B Brewing will donate a portion of its beer sales to the VPS’s charity of choice.

For the VPS, partnering with Benson is only the beginning, Richards says. “We’re looking into longer-term relationships with organizations that want to sponsor us,” he says.

The VPS also plans to add interactive technology to the Pride parade this year.

Parade watchers will be able to download a mobile app to their smartphones that will let them vote on their favourite float, Richards says.

The VPS also plans to incorporate a memorial float into the parade this year. The float, Richards says, will be adorned with ribbons conveying messages of love to community members who have passed away.

“It’s more interactive and it gives people an opportunity to reflect,” he says.

The next VPS election must take place no later than Dec 15, when the interim board’s mandate ends. Asked if he plans to run for president again, Richards would not give a definitive answer.

“I’m going to serve in some capacity,” he promises. “I’m passionate about the society and I’m wanting to make a contribution, and how I make that contribution is really important to me.”

“It’s been an amazing opportunity for me,” Richards adds. “I’ve learned a lot and I’ve worked with a great bunch of people.”