Pride Montreal said the city’s iconic parade that closes the festival’s celebration of LGBTQ+ communities was cancelled on Sunday citing security concerns stemming from a lack of volunteers for the event.
Festival Executive Director Simon Gamache says the event scheduled for Sunday was called off over staffing reasons and would not have been able to proceed safely.
“We were missing more than 80 people this morning, it’s a lot,” Gamache said in an interview, adding the absentees represented more than a third of the number needed for the parade to go ahead.
Pride Montreal issued a statement saying it made the decision with the support of city police because there were not enough volunteers to ensure safety along the parade route.
When asked about the cancellation during a presser on Sunday, Mayor Valérie Plante said the city had “no clue” there were any issues ahead of the event that was called off just hours before it was scheduled to take place.
She said the first thing she did was call her team and talk with the police department to find out what happened.
“We didn’t know. Nobody told us ahead of time that there were issues. We had no clue. I’m really disappointed that we didn’t hear about this before.”
Plante assured that the issue was not with the amount of police officers — “they were ready to go, it was all good.”
She added that the city has been “amazing and financially supportive in terms of logistics for the parade.”
“So I think at this point we’ll have to hear what the pride organization has to say.”
Gamache said this year’s Pride festival fell prey to the kind of labour shortages currently plaguing numerous sectors in Quebec and beyond. He also said COVID-19 cases were reported among the volunteers in the last few days, in addition to heatstroke and heavy fatigue.
Tens of thousands of people, including tourists who travelled to the city for the event, were expected to march through the downtown core Sunday afternoon.
Other planned festival activities went ahead as scheduled at the Olympic Park in the city’s east end throughout the afternoon. Gamache said another event might be organized to replace the parade.
Montreal’s Pride Parade has been celebrating the progress of LGBTQ+ rights, diversity and inclusion for the last 40 years.
The mayor added that she’s frustrated that the event was called off because the parade is accessible to everyone, including kids, and is a chance to see what diversity and inclusiveness looks like.
–with files from The Canadian Press