One of the biggest annual parties in Vancouver won’t be happening this year.
Today (April 4), the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) announced that it’s forced to cancel the Davie Street Party that usually takes place each Pride season in June.
“VPS board and staff reviewed our financial position and budget after our 2017 fiscal year end to determine how to best recover from a posted deficit,” reads a VPS media release. “The Davie Street Party is our most expensive event to produce. The City of Vancouver and regulatory costs for this event are approximately $79,500 with policing/security/traffic management being over $37,000 of the total cost.
“It was determined that this event would need a substantial amount of additional partnered support or cost reductions to make it happen in 2018.”
The release adds that the VPS attempted to find a solution and worked with the City of Vancouver to that end, but ultimately could not find a way to cover costs.
“We will continue to work with our event partners and the City of Vancouver to reimagine the event for 2019,” it reads.
The annual Pride Parade is a seperate event that will go ahead.
Earlier this month, one of Canada’s leading cannabis advocates, Dana Larsen, wrote an op-ed for the Straight that detailed how “skyrocketing” policing costs are threatening the viability of special events in Vancouver.
“Vancouver used to have a fun St. Patrick's Day Parade, but it's been cancelled for the past two years because organizers can't afford to pay the high policing costs for their event,” Larsen wrote. “Vancouver used to have fun New Year's Eve event at the art gallery downtown, but it got cancelled because of the rising costs in policing. High policing costs almost killed Vancouver's annual Santa Claus Parade last year; the event was only saved with last-minute support from a major corporate sponsor.”
He went on to suggest that Pride events could soon follow suit.
“Unfortunately, as these events grew in popularity, the city and police demanded more and more money,” Larsen continued. “Eventually these grassroots community organizers were forced to shut down due to the city demanding they pay ‘soaring policing, security, and infrastructure costs’.
“Vancouver's Pride Parade also struggles with soaring policing bills. In 2010 its entire bill for police, sanitation, transit and park permits was $58,425. By 2016 the bill had more than doubled to $125,000, with the increase almost entirely due to higher policing costs. This unexpected jump in policing costs threatened to bankrupt the Vancouver Pride Society, and ultimately the city decided to forgive $75,000 of the debt from 2016, on top of the $59,000 in subsidies the Pride Society already receives from the city. Without this debt forgiveness, the Vancouver Pride Society would likely have been forced into bankruptcy.
“If the Vancouver Pride Parade, an event whose dozens of corporate sponsors include major brands like TD Bank, Fido, Microsoft, Walmart, and Bud Light, can't survive without substantial subsidies and debt forgiveness from the city, then how can any smaller community event without corporate sponsorship possibly hope to avoid to keep up with soaring police costs?”