4 min

What’s next for Capital Pride

Daily Xtra sits down for a three-part series with Capital Pride’s community committee

First row, left to right, Sarah Orovan, Andrew Giguère, Lori Peever, Tammy Dopson, Christine Leadman, Shawn Robley, Wendy Denley and Bill Staubi. Back row, left to right, Oren Howlett, Christine Schulz, Sébastien Plante, George Hartsgrove, Amanda Ryan, Glenn Crawford and Sarah Evans. Credit: Adrienne Ascah

With $36,000 of city funding secured, Capital Pride’s community advisory committee (CAC) is determined to put on a memorable Pride festival in a matter of months.

The CAC is interviewing applicants for a festival producer, along with volunteer lead and coordinating positions. Even before the operations committee is formed, reactions to the new Capital Pride organization — which has partnered with the Bank Street Business Improvement Area — have been mixed. Community stalwarts like Marion Steele and Bruce Bursey have joined other community members in posting supportive messages on Capital Pride Ottawa’s Facebook page. Elaina Martin, founder and producer of Westfest, also added her good wishes on Facebook, along with an offer to “receive a phone call or message with questions on any aspect of festival production, any time!”

Other community members have expressed disappointment that the new Capital Pride will be run like a business, not the membership-based model the former Pride organization used. People have also raised questions about who’s on the CAC, why the committee wasn’t open to everyone who wanted to join and what the proposal is for this year’s festival.

Tammy Dopson, who’s been the spokesperson for the new Capital Pride, gathered almost all the CAC members for an interview with Daily Xtra on March 24. First, a note about who wasn’t there. Brodie Fraser, who spoke on behalf of the CAC at a public meeting on Jan 20, stepped down from the committee shortly after the public meeting in order to compete for a position on the operations committee. Wilde’s Doug Saunders and Dog and Pony’s Christopher Doyle also left their positions on the CAC in order to apply for positions in operations, Dopson says. Robin St-Pierre, a local paramedic, was unable to attend. Jay Koornstra, the executive director of Bruce House, had a scheduling conflict. Elaine Willcock couldn’t make the group interview, but talked to Daily Xtra later by phone.

In a multi-part feature, you’ll hear from CAC members about what they bring to Capital Pride, their responses to community concerns and why there are still many opportunities to be part of planning this year’s 30th anniversary Pride festival.

Daily Xtra: Why is Capital Pride going to be run like a business, rather than a membership-based organization with an elected board?

Tammy Dopson: At this point in time it seemed like the simplest route to go. We needed to put more structure into the organization for sustainability. The membership model has worked for some time, but has, I think, recently shown that it’s not working. It’s very hard to get consensus amongst a large group of people, so I thought the approach of gathering from the spectrum of the community and putting a number of leaders from that spectrum together would give us as much input as it would on a broader scale.

Christine Schulz: In the first few Pride meetings, nothing came out of it except to go bankrupt, so we had a time frame to work for and this was the fastest way to get Pride going for this year.

Oren Howlett: There still are a number of opportunities for people to get involved. We’re still going to be looking for volunteers. There’s still going to be lots of opportunity for people to give of their time and contribute their views for what Pride will be for 2015, so I don’t think it’s a matter of shutting down any type of conversation or anything like that. I think it’s an opportunity to sort of move that forward and sort of seek their input at a different point and time than they might have been sought in the past.

How do you feel about the comments from vocal critics?

Dopson: We prefer to call them the vocal minority as opposed to the silent majority, but they get heard. They have an opinion and we respect their opinion and we’ll address it as best as possible. I think everyone has to be heard and certainly some of their concerns have been addressed as best we can . . . I think they’ve been given ample opportunity to voice their concerns.

When will the community see the proposal for this year’s Pride festival?

Dopson: Ideally, we’d love to see something together by the end of April and maybe even mid-April because when we hire a festival producer and the few that we’ve spoken to so far, they have ideas already. But the ideas are going to have to be vetted and tossed around.

Sarah Evans: I think if people are looking for a schedule for the festival or the details for the festival, we have to wait until the operations committee is in place. It’s under their leadership that the proposal as it were, the schedule will be developed and the design and how the festival might look for this year will be determined.

Glenn Crawford: Any community groups or individuals who are interested in putting on their own events, we’re looking at what will likely be a very pared-down festival because of the time line, so there’s certainly ample opportunity for groups to partner with Pride and look at sort of creating their own events. Hopefully, that will sort of fill up the schedule a little bit more than what is possible with what this organizing committee will be able to do. That gives people more opportunity to be involved and have their community represented within the larger umbrella of Pride.