Pride festival secures special event status and community event status in Thompson

Council voted unanimously to grant Pride North of 55 special event status and waive up to $1,375 in facility fees at its Jan. 19 meeting.

Pride North of 55 will be hosting their second mini-festival on June 27 and organizing committee chairperson Michelle Smook spoke to council about receiving special event status prior to the vote. 

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“Our event is community-focused and promotes diversity at the highest level. It targets audiences that include all community people, the LGBTTQ community, their allies, youth, families, young children and anyone interested in what we have to offer.”

Smook said the values of Pride coincide with the values the City of Thompson has. “Our regional event is about raising awareness and acceptance around LGBTTQ human rights. After reviewing the City of Thompson’s strategic plan and the values and principles, our organization feels we accomplish the goal of the city of Thompson’s leadership, including but not limited to respect for people, sustainable growth, leadership, healthy community, public safety, and economic development.”

The non-profit organization asked for 100 per cent of their fees to be waived for the 2015 event. This would include fees related to space, tents, and other materials. 

In a memo sent to council, John Burrows, director of recreation, parks and culture, gave a breakdown of the costs for the event. There are two options: an outside option, which would be located at MacLean Park, and an indoor option, which would be located at the C.A Nesbitt Arena. 

If the event were to be held outside the event would cost approximately $660. This would include two tent rentals, an electrical panel, and 12 outdoor tables. For the festival to be held at the C.A Nesbitt Arena, it would cost approximately $1,375. This would include the arena rental, stage rental, electrical panel, plus 300 chairs. 

Coun. Kathy Valentino commented about having to secure two places for the event, due to possible weather concerns. “I guess my concern was we’re going to have two facilities blocked off that day just in case.”

Burrows replied by saying MacLean Park does not need to be booked, and tents will already be up, since Pride follows another event in the park. The only place that will have to be booked prior is the arena. 

Valentino also mentioned that Pride is the first to come to council to ask for a special event status. “The developing for that waiving fee policy where non-profit fees are 50 per cent waived and if you want special event status to come to council, this is the first time being followed through now since it was a new way to do it. I hope we aren’t setting a precedent by everyone is going to want a special event status, that is a fear of mine because I’ve seen all the requests go through.”

Last year due to weather the event ended up being inside, but Smook says it turned out better than the committee expected. “This is new, we held our first event last year and it was very successful. There were more people who came than we originally anticipated. We had a lot of community support, regional support and varying degrees from different community players. The City of Thompson was very supportive. Last year we held the event, so we’re looking at maintaining the same type of support we had from the past, and hoping we can count on you guys for that support.”

Pride North of 55 is the first special event for 2015. All fees will be waived for the mini-festival. 

During the Feb. 17 council meeting, a memo from Melanie Robichaud, license inspector, recommended councillors pass Pride North of 55 as a community event in the city. It was passed with all councillors voting in favour except Coun. Dennis Foley.

Becoming a community event will mean Pride North of 55 will obtain a liquor license and will be allowed to provide beer gardens during the festival. Both MacLean Park and the C.A Nesbitt Arena will be available for Pride North of 55 the day of the event. 

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