Toronto Pride organizers 'shocked' at soaring security, insurance costs
Published Thursday, May 25, 2023 1:51PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 25, 2023 5:01PM EDT
Amidst soaring costs for insurance, private security and paid duty officers, Toronto Pride is considering cutting some of its 2023 programming.
The crunch follows a decision by the festival to expand the parade route and add a 1,000-person-capacity beer garden at Nathan Phillips Square for the duration of the weekend.
Sherwin Modeste, executive director of Pride Toronto, told CP24 the spike in security costs – as well as insurance premiums, which Modeste confirmed have jumped from $67,000 to over $270,000 – was a “shock.”
“We honestly thought it was a mistake,” he said. “Major festivals are being hit really hard by insurance. We were shocked.”
Modeste said the Toronto Police Service threatened to withdraw paid duty officers if the festival does not pay the full price – over $185,000, after last year's $62,000.
“This is a festival that relies 95 per cent on sponsorship,” he said. “We strongly believe it is the responsibility of all three levels of government to come together and support, and provide safety and security for all of its citizens.”
Modeste said the added cost seems to be due to additional programming in Nathan Phillips Square, which he feels is ultimately a non-starter, given Pride programming has taken place there before.
“The size of the footprint has not increased,” he said, adding that the festival strives to create a safe and welcoming environment for the millions of visitors who come to Toronto for Pride every year.
“With this cost, that’s just not possible,” he said.
In a statement to CP24, a representative for the Toronto Police Service called Pride’s 2023 expansion a “substantial increase” in the event footprint, saying that their recommendation for additional officers is not rooted in any threats of elevated security risks.
The spokesperson also said the hours for the festival and its concerts are being extended from midnight until 2am.
“Ultimately, the festival is larger this year, and TPS is recommending the increase to ensure public safety and the safe movement of pedestrians and traffic,” TPS said in their statement. “Our recommendations stem from our thorough analysis of the festival's size and magnitude, as well as our extensive expertise in maintaining public safety during large-scale events. Above all, our primary objective is to ensure the safety of every attendee.”