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

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

Early morning fire destroys hunting cabin on Prospect Lake Road

Investigation underway to determine the cause of the fire

Rickter Scale: For whom the whistle tolls

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Greta Thunberg declines invitation to Victoria due to time, not ferry emissions

Thunberg confirmed that she will be joining a climate strike at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Friday

‘Fortress-like’ fence keeping Victoria and BC Housing divided

The 2.4-metre fence is double the permitted height and topped with spikes

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

POLL: Are you satisfied with the result of the federal election?

The ballots have now been counted and the dust has settled on… Continue reading

100-pound pumpkin stolen a second time from B.C. business

According to security footage, a man and woman took the pumpkin on Oct. 20 at 8:20 p.m.

‘Havoc and chaos:’ Alberta separatist group gains support as Liberals re-elected

The idea is getting interest from people in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of British Columbia

Feds finally decriminalizing drugs possible – but it’s up to Jagmeet Singh, expert says

National pharmacare was one of Singh’s most highly-touted platform policies

In the news: Wexit, Brexit and Trump sparks outrage

There’s been a surge of support for an Alberta separatist group

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Runners brave wet, windy weather for Ucluelet’s 20th Edge to Edge

“The spirit of the runners I have nothing but compliments.”

Most Read