Sources within Fierté Capitale Pride have revealed to the Velvet Studio that a new parade route has led to a slowdown in negotiations with the cautious City of Ottawa. On June 4th it was revealed by Fierté Capitale Pride that negotiations had begun regarding the drastic change to the parade route. The Ottawa Pride parade is one of the biggest one day festivals in the city, having skyrocketed with an increase of over 120% within just five years, jumping to over 110,000 people in attendance at least year’s parade route, according to Police.
Documents made available in 2014 to VS revealed that the estimated cost of policing the parade route for Capital Pride had been nearly $10,000, with another $2,500 on the site grounds. They also spent another $9,000 on private security and $1,500 for barricades. The Ottawa Gatineau Pride Committee, under the branding of Capital Pride, filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of 2015, still owing around $106,000 to its creditors, which includes the City of Ottawa. The City of Ottawa’s bylaws require paid duty officers on parades.
The Ottawa Police’s website states “The Paid Duty Sections reserves the right to determine the number of officers required at the event, based on risk assessment”, they also require a minimum of four hours. Each constable costs around $80/hr. In March of this year the City of Ottawa propped up the new Pride group with a $36,000 grant to help ensure that the 30 year festival continues to move ahead. The festival has also received the strong support of the Mayor Jim Watson.
The amount of road closures and access to neighbourhoods appears to be the crux of the battle between Pride and City Hall. The proposed route from Fierté Capitale Pride limits the road closures to Bank Street, Kent, and the intersection of Gladstone, Laurier, and Somerset. (See Map). However, this is a far more residential area, and the City has flagged concerns about those residents being unable to access their homes with the road closures in place. The use of Kent Street has also been noted as a non-bus route, meaning it would have less impact on busses.
The route favoured by City Hall. according to sources at Pride, has the parade staging at City Hall before crossing Elgin Street, along Laurier, and then down Bank Street. This alternative route would see road closures on Elgin, Metcalf, O’Connor, and Bank Street, as well as along Laurier. This route is only 20 metres longer, however would require a substantial increase in the number of police to control traffic at the closed intersections. City Hall is believed to have offered Fierté Capitale Pride the City Hall location for staging the parade, free of charge. Their preference for this route is also based on past precedent, as it is almost identical to previous routes and would not be a surprise to residents, businesses, and the Special Events Advisory Committee, at City Hall.
As you can see in the map, the route which is preferred by Fierté Capitale Pride places the entire crowd within minutes’ walk of the festival grounds, which will be between Somerset and Gladstone, the City’s designated Village area. Fierté Capitale Pride’s Tammy Dopson told Daily Xtra! “Through our partnership with the Bank Street BIA we are excited to be able to bring the Fierté Capitale Pride festival and community fair back to the Village on Bank Street…We are currently in discussions with the City of Ottawa regarding a proposed parade route which would allow us to keep this year’s festival close to the heart of the Village”. Some GLBT businesses, such as Stroked Ego, recently had to re-located due to rent increases. Sources at Pride confirmed that supporting the Village’s businesses had been a factor in the route.
Numbers made available at the end of last year’s Pride Festival revealed that when the festival grounds were on City Hall, Capital Pride saw less than 10% of the crowd make their way over to the City Hall location. Ottawa Pride’s new proposal mimics the model used in Toronto where the Parade route runs parallel along Young Street to the festival grounds on Church Street. The question of the crowd is relevant to the economic impact of the festival, as the businesses along Bank Street will benefit more from a captive audience if the festival is contained within a two block radius. However the City’s route may stretch the crowd into business along Elgin Street, Slater, and Bank Street.
We will continue to update as the story develops.