Vancouver Pride unprepared to fully expand for B.C.'s lifting of pandemic restrictions in provincial reopening plan

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      Although most people are welcoming B.C.’s lifting of pandemic restrictions in various sectors, Vancouver Pride has been somewhat caught off guard by what is now permissible.

      In a statement on June 30, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) explained that its team has been working in response to provincial health restrictions since the pandemic began, but did have to make previous decisions about Pride 2021.

      The decision-making process for this year’s Pride, which began back in August 2020, entailed community consultations, budget reviews, board discussions, and idea generation, the VPS explained, along with numerous factors taken into consideration.

      Ultimately, the VPS decided to keep this year’s celebrations small, with potential limited expansion if circumstances allowed.   

      Decisions had been based upon the provincial 50-person limit for gatherings. However, the VPS stated that the expansion of event capacities during the announcement of Step 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan “came as a surprise to many of us in the events sector given it had previously been mentioned that large-scale events such as parades will not be possible during the summer months.”

      B.C. had unveiled its four step Restart Plan on May 25, with July 1 listed as the earliest start date of Step 3. 

      The B.C. government held a news conference on June 29 to announce details about the province advancing to Step 3. In this phase, indoor organized seated gatherings can have a capacity of 50 people or 50 percent capacity (whichever is greater) while outdoor organized seated gatherings can have a capacity of 5,000 people or 50 percent capacity, (whichever is greater).

      In addition, fairs and festivals are now allowed to resume, with communicable disease plans in place.

      Despite preparing for some potential expansions, the VPS said that “unfortunately, our event plans were neither intended nor designed to be expandable to the capacities events are now allowed to work with”.

      Nonetheless, the events team is looking into the possibility of releasing additional tickets by mid-July for in-person events, such as the VanPrideFest and Pride Lounges.

      In lieu of a traditional Pride parade, Vancouver Pride will hold a Decentralized Pride parade on August 1, in which participants can contribute photos to social media of themselves marching down streets to be featured in a live parade broadcast.

      Also, the Vancouver Dyke March won’t be marching this year but will instead hold a sit-in at Jonathan Rogers Park on July 31.

      Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver will hold its official Pride proclamation at Vancouver City Hall on July 26.

      The full lineup of Vancouver Pride 2021 events is available at the Vancouver Pride website.