Changes coming to this year's Pride — but not around police uniforms

After consulting members of the LGBTQ community, Capital Pride is making some changes for 2019, including more dry events and creating an accessible space along the parade route.

More dry and free events, plus an accessible space along the parade route

Thousands of people participated in the 2018 Pride parade in Ottawa. This year, organizers want to host more events to broaden the reach of the festival. (Judy Trinh/CBC )

Capital Pride is making some changes to the annual summer festival after hearing concerns from community members, but it's maintaining its stance that police officers should not march in the Pride parade in uniform.  

In a report released Friday, the group published the results from those consultations and outlined the changes it would make for this month's event.

The group issued an online survey and held in-person sessions with members from different religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Throughout May, the online survey received 262 responses. 

The question of whether police should march in the parade while wearing their uniforms has been an ongoing topic of debate for Ottawa's LGBTQ community. In 2017, Captial Pride's board of directors issued a statement requesting that officers not march in uniform during that year's parade.

While the online survey found 58 per cent of respondents felt officers should be allowed to wear their uniforms, other consultations found some groups were deeply opposed. 

That led to Capital Pride keeping the existing policy in place, while also encouraging police to work on improving relationships with the LGBTQ community. 

Police will again be asked not to march in uniform during this year's parade. ( Judy Trinh/CBC)

Dry events, accessible parade spots

Capital Pride also received input on other changes to the festival, including the decision to hold more events — like this February's first ever winter Pride march — throughout the year.

According to the survey results, participants said they want to see that trend continue, while also moving some events away from clubs and bars to accommodate people who don't drink. 

In its report, Capital Pride pledged to do both of those things, as well as host more free events.

The organizers are also promising to dedicate more money to events intended for women, trans and non-binary people, as well as providing funding to the Wabano Centre for their Pride events.  

As for the day of the Pride parade, Capital Pride said it would be creating an accessible viewing space near the parade route for people with mobility issues, while also lobbying OC Transpo to provide free transit on parade day.

This year's Pride festival runs from Aug. 18-25, with the parade held on the final day.