Today we have an excellent piece written by special guest blogger,Martin Rooney,detailing the economic impact of not flying the Pride Flag in Surrey.
So we have had the conversation about the social impact of raising and flying the Pride Flag at Surrey City Hall; (the statement that Surrey is open to the GLBT business community, that Surrey is embracing of the GLBT community by offering space that might facilitate an ever-growing youth population that is intolerant of labels and so on..) that has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
So now let us take a look at the potential economic positives of embracing flying the Pride Flag and fully embracing the Pride Festival and see if this was to be weekend of events how it could potentially have a positive impact on the city, its businesses and taxpayers…….
New West raised and flew the Pride Flag during the Olympic and Paralympic games on a city flag pole in unison with the National outpouring of support for the GLBT Athletes in Sochi .New Westminster has a fourth flag pole referred to as a friendship pole which is located just east of City Hall in Friendship Park. The City Council has totally embraced NW Pride, closed off Columbia Street for the Festival Day and many local businesses are sponsors/partners of this years Festival. Anticipated economic impact to New West is expected to be north of $500k according the President of Royal City Pride.
Prince George Annual Gay Pride Celebrations across North America are used as major tools to generate economic activity while promoting a right culture and a safe and inclusive community for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Queer and Questioning citizens. While in major city centres like Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto etc. are much more likely to see more tourism and local economic activities based on size and location, places like Prince George are in a uniquely different situation and often have to work smarter to create more activity. The Prince George Pride Society has worked very hard to bridge the gap between local businesses and local government as a means to move forward plans to use the Gay Pride Celebrations to generate more economic activity. The positive relationships that have been formed with local business such as Topaz Bead Gallery, SHAGG Romance Enhancement Centres, the Ramada Hotel, etc. have all benefited directly from the ongoing support of our Mayor and Council. ” Due to the nature of our local economic industry drivers and the diversity that exists within a smaller centre like Prince George we recognize that the economic and social success aspects of the Gay Pride Celebration are not mutually exclusive to one relationship or another. In fact it is only from the successful and positive relationships between local government, businesses, labour unions, and other service agencies that the Pride Celebrations in Prince George has survived and flourished over the last 18 years. While the actual economic impact has not been analyzed at this point, we know that these relationships would not have been continued if the economic relationship was not successful”. (Valentine Crawford – PG Pride)
Victoria and other cities hosting Pride have not surveyed the record of economic impact known at time of writing; there was no need to, it is however apparent that positive economic impact occurred as these cities continue to host Pride events. Trina Mousseau (Tourism Victoria) reports that there is a huge positive economic impact to embracing Pride in Victoria. People frequent local bars, stores and spend money, as they are having fun. The Legislature flies the Pride Flag as does the city and down by the inner harbour. Quote “The Pride Parade has significant economic impact to Victoria. It is a day where thousands of people fill our streets, restaurants and shops, spending money while showing their support for our vibrant LGBTQ community.”
Vancouver flew the Pride Flag in support of the Sochi Athletes and flies the Pride Flag at City Hall, has banners throughout the west end, has side walks painted in the rainbow colours, and this year on the “flag island” at the foot of Davie and Denman, is flying 6 trans pride flags and 6 rainbow pride flags. This is the first year that Vancouver Pride Parade has become an official civic event and the estimated economic impact to the Vancouver economy is $30 M according to the VPS General Manager Ray Lam – yes MILLION generated over week-long celebrations. Attendance at the Parade in 2013 was some 500,000 people line the route.(source Global TV). Vancouver is also advertised worldwide as a tourist destination for GLBT Travel.
A historic first for North America with Toronto having just hosted the first ever World Pride in North America. Despite the lack of support both visible and apparent from Mayor Rob Ford. the scenes of Canada’s largest city embracing millions or people from across the Globe proud of who they are, was amazing. There was also a human rights conference attached to the World Pride events,
The economic impact of the willingness to fly the Pride flag on municipal flag poles and embrace Pride Parades and/or festivals has served many Canadian cities well. Imagine the potential economic impact of Surrey Pride if the city was to embrace the Flag and look at placing the festival to “open” Fusion Festival week. Holland Park would be full two weekends in a row, and the economic impact could be astounding to the local businesses.
So what is the city of Surrey doing to embrace a potentially large positive economic impact of Pride to its residents?
Refusing to fly the Pride Flag and “sponsoring” the Pride Festival to the tune of $1,000! yes $1,000 does not send a positive message to the Pride and business communities in Surrey or around the world for that matter.
Whether it be a 4th flag pole or amend the recent flag Protocol it might be advisable to take a proactive approach and live the motto – “The Future Lives Here”.
In the last week or so much kerfuffle has arisen form the controversial decision by Surrey Cit Council ( Read Surrey First and their wanna be Mayor Linda Hepner) to refuse to fly the Pride flag on a pole outside Surrey City hall.
Instead in what they think is a movement of political correctness they allowed the Pride folks to set up an exhibit inside the new City hall in the back of the foyer away from the elevators here it would be hard to see.
In case you have never been to New Surrey City hall it is an expensive white elephant everybody has been talking about lately with respect to the huge waste of money that could have been better spent elsewhere.
How hard would it have been to take the flag and fly it on the flag pole underneath the Surrey City flag.
For those folks in the Pride group which is comprised of people that are Gay,Lesbian,Bi-sexual and Transgender ( GLBT) this must seem like a step back.
After all it has taken them quite awhile to get out of the closet without being persecuted so to speak and now be asked to step back in . ( metaphorically speaking the new city hall represents in a way an expensive closet).
A little planning and foresight at the beginning would have allowed for a forth flag pole so that all community activities could have been represented out in front of the city hall.
That for me would be inclusion and a way to connect with the people.
What a wasted opportunity!
Which now brings us to Ferris wheels and back to wanna be Mayor Hepner.
About the same time this was going on she announced her intention to run for Mayor.
This on the heels of the Surrey First/Hepner argument that a fourth flag pole would have been too expensive. ( Full disclaimer here folks : I haven’t shopped for either but I would bet the farm and the farmer that a Ferris wheel costs a tad more than a flag pole!)
Part of her reasoning would be that it would get children a fair like experience in an area known as Bridgeview.
News flash for Linda and her crew ; There are a large number of those same children in the lower mainland, part of which is Surrey that includes kids in The GLBT group who would have been served exponentially had a Pride flag been flown out in full view where they could have seen it.
Sure a Ferris wheel would give a kid a bit of instant gratification but a flag flown shows a victory earned and a colossal sign of strength.
Just ask any Vimy Ridge veteran.
It would have made these kids feel an important part of the community.
It would have said to them, you matter.
To me they do and that is why the flag flies on my blog.