Pride in the NPA

Thousands mill at Pride festivities on Sunday, happy to see the NPA. Photo: Tom Hu

The crowds were massive at Pride this year, circling half of the downtown, stretching from Robson and Jervis down Robson, Denman and all along Pacific and Beach to the Burrard Bridge.

I was proud to be part of the NPA outreach team for this event, manning our booth for the event up on the hill above Sunset Beach. We gave away nearly 600 NPA balloons that day, until we exhausted two tanks of helium, and have never had so many people come up to us to say how glad they were to see us. Pride organizers even helped us find additional ribbon for the balloons when we ran out.

Many of the people that signed our email sheets were getting more involved in local politics for the first time, and while we talked to people from every corner of the city, many of the first-timers were from the West End. Quite a few expressed buyer’s remorse after voting for Vision in the last election.

We received a number of heated comments on the ad-hoc nature of the STIR program and recent comments by the Mayor that many found shocking. Others mentioned the spending priorities of this council, and were particularly incensed at what they saw as the lack of consultation and costs involved in transportation infrastructure taken away from vehicles and devoted to bikes, although many favored bike lanes that met those concerns.

Others in the team reported a number of conversations hoping the NPA will be more proactive in its opposition to Vision, more visible, more free of infighting, and eager to see fresh faces brought forward for office.

Shortly after the last election, I met Mike Harcourt for the first time. Having learned I had run and lost my race for Council, he said the kindest thing to me. He said: "Oh, don’t worry about that (loss), Sean. That was an outgoing tide, not an incoming tide …"

I now believe that tide has turned. The overarching feeling of the crowds attending the parade was one of welcome. Far more adults asked for NPA balloons at this event than at any events we’ve done over the past two years, and we had an exponentially higher number of people sign up for our email list than ever before.

It was a beautiful day, a great parade and a proud moment to be an out, gay member of the NPA. Kudos to all the organizers for making it happen.

– post by Sean Bickerton

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