A record crowd of half a million people is expected to turn out for the Vancouver Pride Parade in downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.
The colourful parade though the city's West End is the undisputed main event of the week-long celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered culture.
Over 150 floats are expected to join the march, which starts at Robson and Bute streets, and heads down Denman Street to Sunset Beach, where the party continues into the evening.
Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer estimates that Pride will generate at least $21 million in economic benefits through tourism and service industry sales, and that's a significant return on the $100,000 it costs to put on the parade and related events.
This year is the first time that the city will foot some of the bill, offering $34,500 to the Pride Society for operational costs and an additional $10,000 to “green” the parade, says Reimer.
Some of that money will also be used to pay for the policing required for the weekend events.
Although Vancouver police will not reveal the total costs of policing over the weekend, they say the extra police officers dedicated to Pride will not impact enforcement throughout the city.
“For the most part staff are being brought in on their time off so that police can manage the city on their regular schedule,” says Brian Montague, spokesperson for the VPD.
On-duty officers will be policing other events happening elsewhere in the city, such as the Dyke March.
The independent parade that was started ten years ago by women who felt that the male-dominated Pride parade overshadowed queer women is expected to draw about 3,000 people to East Vancouver on Saturday.
"The idea is we want to get out there, we want to claim some space, we want an opportunity for people to see lesbian women and their allies just saying we are here,” says Michelle Fortin, executive director of the Dyke March.
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