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

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

ChristmasCity of Victoria

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: A brief history of Bear Creek Camp

Malahat Logging Company began both Beach Camp and Bear Creek Camp

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read