The DVBA thinks Christmas lights are a valuable use of public money. (File photo)

Downtown Victoria Business Association believes in the value of Christmas lights

The general public have mixed feelings after city council motioned to reevaluate decoration costs

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) says Christmas lights are a vital part of the downtown core in the winter season.

“Decorating downtown during Christmas is really important for creating a warm and inviting space for people to come and visit, which is important for our small local businesses,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the DVBA.

Last week city council passed a motion to re-evaluate the spending on winter decorations, particularly those with potential religious connotations such as Christmas trees, poinsettias and Santa Claus. The motion was put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt, who said that the city should look into making the decorations more inclusive.

READ MORE: City of Victoria considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

“We’ve never had a negative response from the public, and actually the response is the opposite in that people want to see more,” Bray said. “We certainly are very sensitive to any overt religious icons, but in terms of lights around trees and these things, we don’t think there’s been an issue identified by the public.”

One of the most prominent displays up for debate is the Christmas tree decorated in Centennial Square, adjacent to City Hall. While the tree belongs to the city, the lights themselves actually belong to the DVBA, who put them up with the City’s permission. The city also fronts the cost to rent a crane to get the lights to the top of the tree.

READ MORE: Victoria councillor responds to Christmas decoration backlash

The city is also responsible for street lamps and banners, but many other groups contribute to the downtown seasonal ambiance, including local businesses, the DVBA, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and major property owners. Based on the public response, these entities will likely continue to decorate as per usual.

“Nobody has come in and complained about holly to me, so I don’t know how holly or poinsettias or lights around a tree is itself a problem,” Bray said. “Those are seasonal displays that lots of people put up in their homes and businesses that don’t appear to be divisive in any way.”

Still, Bray said Isitt is certainly entitled to his opinion, and that carefully evaluating costs is an important task that council is responsible for.

READ MORE: Yes, Ben Isitt, there is a Santa Claus

“He is looking at the expenditure side, regardless of if there’s a religious connotation or not, and if it is a valuable use of public dollars, which I think is a valuable thing to look at,” Bray said. “I would argue that it’s absolutely vital to contribute towards the vibrancy of our downtown… and quite frankly lighting even helps with issues like safety; more lights on, more people feel safe. We think it’s a great use of public dollars.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Investigate the paranormal at Point Ellice House this December

Museum hosting ‘Ghosts of Christmas Past’ event

Greater Victoria mom organizes gala in support of mental health after son’s struggle with psychosis

A Night of White gala takes place on Nov. 22, symbolizes blank slate and fresh start

Stelly’s gala to send students on annual humanitarian trip, postponed due to strike

Global Perspectives Gala was schedule for Nov. 20, new date will be chosen when strike ends

Designs for Johnson Street Bridge waterfront areas hit delays

Upgrades to the Songhees Park, surrounding area being presented Thursday

Saanich’s 20-year-old acting mayor encourages other young people get involved in politics

There is a ‘hunger for young voices’ in politics right now

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

12 Sooke events to get you into the holiday spirit

From a Santa parade to classicial music, Sooke has it all

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

Fisherman missing near Lake Cowichan’s Shaw Creek

Family is asking for everyone and anyone to keep their eyes open,… Continue reading

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Most Read