City sending mixed signals to community
Pride P.E.I. has every right to be upset with the City of Charlottetown for denying a sponsorship request from the local organization. It wasn’t a big request – just $500 – that the city has provided in the past. The money is important to P.E.I. Pride Week ( July 26-Aug. 1) and would signal that the city is indeed friendly to the LGBTQ community.
The excuse offered by the city in recent days is a weak one. A spokesperson says the city didn’t receive a request and thus didn’t make a donation. Tyler Murnaghan, chair of Pride P.E.I., provided a letter that he sent to the city on March 25, just as council was considering its budget. The letter apparently didn’t reach the right desk.
Mr. Murnaghan was told at that time the city didn’t have any funds. So, someone did get the letter and gave a reason why funding was turned down. These are tight financial times so Pride P.E.I. was disappointed but understanding. Like many small organizations, Pride P.E.I. relies on the support of government and business to host its events and grow its annual festival.
When news came to light that Discover Charlottetown was advertising at the Halifax Pride festival - to get out word that the P.E.I. capital is LGBTQ-friendly, the issue quickly re-surfaced here.
Discover Charlottetown is a separate entity from the city and is not funded by the P.E.I. capital. But it uses an accommodations levy gathered in the city to promote Charlottetown so it can be viewed in many ways as comparing apples to apples.
The connection was close enough that Pride P.E.I. decided to go public and call out the city. It asked how Charlottetown could advertise that it supports the local gay community while at the same time cuts off funds in support of Pride Week here. Charlottetown apparently is the only Canadian capital city to not provide financial support to their Pride organization this year.
If the city is short of funds to assist Pride Week, then why doesn’t Discover Charlottetown make a $500 advertising commitment to the parade here, as it has done in Halifax? It would remove the contradiction in the minds of the public that the city says one thing and does another – when it deals with its gay community.