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WorldPride 2014 moving to new weekend

Toronto incapable of hosting two large events: Tourism Toronto

Toronto Pride 2011. Credit: Xtra file photo

If you’ve already made plans for Toronto’s WorldPride in 2014, you may want to cancel them. 

Rather than first consult the community, Pride Toronto (PT) instead hastily changed the dates of WorldPride 2014 because another international event is already booked on the same weekend.

A board source tells Xtra that the change was made swiftly at the last PT board meeting. Board members chose between two sets of dates. They decided to hold the event from June 20 to 29 rather than from July 11 to 20. 

“Why wasn’t this brought to the community first?” asks the PT board member who asked not to be named. “Which was what was in the [Community Advisory Panels] report.”

WorldPride was initially scheduled to run from June 27 to July 6.

Board chair Francisco Alvarez confirmed the date change. He says PT was advised by Tourism Toronto that there would not be enough hotel rooms available during the originally proposed dates.

Tourism Toronto wanted PT to move the date to avoid conflict with the Lion’s Club International conference, set for July 4 to 8.

“WorldPride is very important to the community and the global community,” the board member says. “We really can’t fuck this up.”

Alvarez says the Lion’s Club conference is an early booking. He says there was no way for PT to have predicted the conflict.

“When there are people with money to put down, they can make a booking,” he says. “So they got the 6,000 hotel rooms that we were prepared to book. Essentially, the Lion’s Club booked the whole town. I guess there isn’t the capacity for two events.”

Alvarez says PT hasn’t yet started to create promotional materials for WorldPride.

The new date for WorldPride has the green light from InterPride, the international association of Pride organizers, he says.

WorldPride committee chair Luka Amona says Tourism Toronto explained that there are “challenges” to hosting two international events during the same weekend in Toronto. “The Lion’s Club also has a parade,” he says, so there would be a strain on city resources and services. “Plus, we really wanted to keep it as close to the Stonewall dates as possible.”

Amona says PT still hasn’t estimated how many people WorldPride will bring to Toronto.

Representatives from Tourism Toronto or the Lions Club could not be reached for comment.

Loreen Lalonde, director of sales and marketing for the Marriott Courtyard, at Yonge and Alexander streets, says the change is welcome news for the hotel industry.

“You need a good section of the major downtown properties available for guests,” she says. “Toronto would never want to host an international convention if we can’t do it properly. We need to have a substantial number of rooms downtown to be able to accommodate people.”

Pride moved the celebration to the first weekend of July in 2010 in part because Toronto was hosting the G20 summit of world leaders on the final weekend of June that year. It has kept the event on that weekend since, hoping to take advantage of increased tourism from Canadians and Americans enjoying the long weekend.