Executive committee votes to support $260K funding grant to Pride Toronto
Toronto’s executive committee voted unanimously on Monday to approve a $260,000 funding grant to Pride Toronto on Monday, following a heated discussion in recent weeks over whether the money should be pulled after police officers were banned from attending the parade earlier this year.
The decision comes less than 24 hours after Pride organizers said they would welcome participation in the event as long as uniforms, weapons and cruisers are left at the police station.
A statement released by Pride Toronto Sunday night states “LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies are not banned from the parade.”
“We welcome and encourage their participation to add to Pride this year as members of our community,” the statement read. “LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies can march in the parade with community groups, with the City of Toronto, or even create their own group.”
“We are simply requesting that their participation not include the following elements: uniform, weapons, and vehicles.”
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced in February that officers will not take part in this year’s parade after Pride Toronto members voted in January to remove police floats following pressure from Black Lives Matter Toronto.
Police participation in the Pride parade was put into question last year after the Toronto chapter of the Black Lives Matter group staged a sit-in that halted the event for nearly 30 minutes.
VIDEO: Chief Mark Saunders announces Toronto Police won’t participate in 2017 Pride parade
They had asked for nine demands to be met, one of which included a ban on police at future events.
Since then, Toronto’s LGBTQ officers have been asking the city to withhold a $260,000 grant to fund the parade.
The move comes after Toronto Coun. John Campbell said he was mulling over the idea of putting forth a motion at city council to pull the money.
Mayor John Tory released a statement on Monday in support of providing full funding to Pride despite his belief that police should be welcomed in the parade.
“But I support the Chief’s decision and the steps that have been taken by the current management of Pride, who have been working hard to ensure the financial and organizational viability of Pride 2017 and to try to find a resolution to these outstanding issues,” Tory said.
“Both Olivia Nuamah and Chief Saunders inform me that constructive discussions are taking place between them to address this matter and the underlying issues that gave rise to it. And both have indicated to me that a withdrawal of City funding for Pride 2017 won’t be helpful in finding a resolution.”
Tory said both Nuamah and Saunders have told him their goal is to work towards a resolution to include police in the parade next year.
Pride Toronto’s executive director Olivia Nuamah told reporters at city hall on Monday she was delighted to hear Tory supports funding to Pride.
“What this goes to show you, Toronto as a community, backs us,” she said.
In a letter addressed to to the Pride community Sunday night, Nuamah described how some LGBTQ members feel there is still a lack of inclusion.
“Members of our community feel vulnerable and voiceless. We want to understand why, and address the ways in which they are made to feel that way,” Nuamah wrote.
“We need to ask each other how we might grow in a way that creates a space for everyone. This takes time. This requires patience. This is where we’re at now. It’s why this conversation is so valuable.”
The decision to approve the grant will go to full council for a final vote later this month.
VIDEO: Toronto councillor wants to pull funding for Pride parade
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.