The Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) announced Thursday (May 4) that the annual pride parade and festival would be changing routes and moving locations to improve accessibility.
Each year the event attracts over 100,000 attendees and hundreds of community group participants to the West End.
New Vancouver Pride Parade route
Following a community consultation, new Co-Executive Directors Allison Dunne and Madison Holding, have announced from 2023 onward the Vancouver Pride Parade will begin at the intersection of Davie Street and Denman, proceed down Beach Avenue and Pacific Street (bypassing Robson) and culminate at the new festival site at Concord Community Park.
The new route is slightly longer (2.7 km vs 3.1 km) but flatter, with fewer hills, more shade and wider sidewalks, which the VPS says allows for the possibility to include more accessible viewing zones for disabled communities.
The festival site is larger in preparation for to projected attendance of the 2024 parade according to VPS and flat concrete which will accommodate mobility devices.
Both the route and festival site are also closer to Yaletown-Roundhouse SkyTrain station and other transit stops, making it easier for people to attend from all over the Lower Mainland. Thus in keeping with the society's goals of inclusivity and accessibility.
"We are confident that this new location will enhance the experience for everyone and will provide a platform for the community to celebrate diversity, acceptance, and inclusivity," says Dunne in a press release.
In addition, the Pride Festival is expanding its programming to the entire weekend, featuring entertainment, music, and vendors over two days from August 5 to 6 with the festival on Aug. 6.
Holding and Dunne are excited to create an event that can accommodate a larger number of attendees.
"Our organization is committed to making Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival as inclusive and accessible as possible, and these changes are just a few steps in that direction.," reads the release. "VPS would like to thank everyone who participated in the community consultations and provided feedback on the proposed changes."
No police, fewer floats
As of 2018, the VPS's policy precludes police from walking in the parade and this year organizers say they have hired private security to monitor the festival site and will be holding harm-reduction, anti-oppression, and LGBTQ+ training for them and medical staff.
Political groups will be allowed to march so long as they pass the "Parade Matrix" and they will be made to walk together in one contingent.
Due to safety concerns regarding patios, meridians, bike lanes, and other new infrastructure, VPS is limiting the number of floats and trailers in the parade this year. They also have the goal of an emission-free event by 2024 and plan to lower the number of heavy vehicles participating.
There will also be designated "accessibility zones" along the parade route and at the festival site which will be shaded with seating and will be mask mandatory (N95 preferred).
While the main stage and Vendor Village areas of the festival will be licensed, the all-ages Community Zone will not be and will have its own sober space.
The Festival will run from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5 with a ticketed portion from 6 p.m. onward, and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 6 (free all day).
More information about the change and accessibility audit can be found on the VPS website.