WATCH ABOVE: It started off relatively small but the Calgary Pride Parade has now become one of the biggest events of the year, and is turning out to be very good for business. Global’s Doug Vaessen reports.
CALGARY – The city of Calgary is showing its colours with a first-ever rainbow crosswalk in front of City Hall. Experts say the diversity of Pride is good for business as well as culture.
“It is good for a city’s image, good for a city’s reputation,” said ATB senior economist Todd Hirsch. “When you look for a city where we want to be attracting people and retaining people, the more events like Pride weekend, the better.”
The Pride festival runs for a week and culminates in the parade on Sept. 6.
“We are really excited for the growth of our parade from 5,000 to 50,000 over five years, and we look forward to continued growth over the next five years as well,” said Pride Calgary’s Craig Sklenar.
Hirsch said events like the parade are important for the city.
“They draw people together, they make this city warm and inclusive for everybody, they make it welcoming, and in fact, these kind of events are increasingly becoming tourist draws,” he said.
That message was echoed on the streets of Calgary Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s great and I think it’s the best crosswalk because it’s so large and a much bigger scale than at a regular crosswalk, so I am really excited,” said Pride supporter Carlie Ferguson. “It’s a great gesture. Maybe it can be permanent.”
City councillor Sean Chu got involved in this year’s Pride activities as a way to express solidarity after a tweet he sent that linked same-sex marriage to bike lanes. He said the rainbow crosswalk will be a great experiment and he looks forward to feedback.
“They want to do what’s best for Calgary as well, as a whole, not just a certain group,” he said. “It’s for everybody. So we want to take baby steps and let’s try this out, see if the feedback is good. Once it’s good, I would love to see this permanently.”
With files from Erika Tucker