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Councillor Tim Stephenson says he expects a unanimous vote to bring more city money to events like the Vaisakhi parade. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)
Councillor Tim Stephenson says he expects a unanimous vote to bring more city money to events like the Vaisakhi parade. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)

Vancouver to vote on new status for parades Add to ...

Three key parades stand to receive thousands of dollars in new funding from the city through a plan council will be debating this week.

Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson, who brought forward the idea, says the proposal to grant so-called civic status to the Pride parade, Vaisakhi parade and the Chinatown Spring Festival is about helping out non-profit parades that enhance the community and also bring economic spinoffs.

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“They add to the value of life of citizens in the city,” he said Sunday in an interview.

“These are cultural events and they’re really important and there are obviously many people that enjoy them. All of these events enhance the city culturally and also bring huge economic benefits.”

Last September, the issue was raised in a motion and has since been the subject of a staff review, leading to a report released in advance of this week’s council meeting.

No current spinoff figures are provided in the report though the overview notes the Pride parade generated $23-million in “industry output” in 2001 and suggests that figure has likely grown as the annual Pride event is now ranked the fifth largest in the world and second largest in North America.

“This designation will recognize the benefit of these events and under the recommended framework will also take into account the size of each event and incrementally benefit the events which bring the most benefit and profile to the city,” said the report by city staff.

Under the proposal, all of the parades would see an increase in existing funding to offset the cost of city services such as sanitation and policing. The Vaisakhi Parade will see a 272-per-cent increase of funding to $30,000, the Chinatown Spring Festival a 155-per-cent increase to $12,450 and Pride a 345-per-cent increase to $34,500. The total cost would be $76,950.

Under the plan, the Grey Cup would be brought into the new category and other parades could be eligible for the class in future. Vancouver has played host to 15 Grey Cup celebrations and is next scheduled to hold the event in 2014. In 2011, according to the staff report, the city provided $80,000 in city services and other costs.

There are some conditions attached to the support that city council is considering, including retaining the services of professional event organizers to create event plans that cover such issues as alcohol management and safety, adhering to the plan and participating in a post-event review.

“This framework will allow the City to ensure there is close co-ordination with City services responsible for safety security, traffic co-ordination, and other key areas,” the staff report said.

These include reducing waste. Under the plan, each qualifying organization would be eligible for $10,000 on a one-time basis over three years to eliminate waste.

According to the staff report, Pride has an annual attendance of more than 400,000 and Vaisakhi and the Spring Festival more than 100,000 each.

Mr. Stevenson said he expected that the council of 10 members plus the mayor would easily support the motion.

“I am anticipating a unanimous vote. This is such a benefit to the city,” he said, suggesting it would be “foolish” to not support the communities behind the parades nor the logic of the specific events.

Eight members of council, including the mayor, are members of Vision Vancouver. One is a member of the Green party. Two are members of the Non-Partisan Association.

Elizabeth Ball of the NPA said the group has been supportive of the idea in the past, but wants to hear from the staff and the public before saying whether she will now vote for the plan.

“I’d like to hear everything before announcing my vote,” she said.

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