Victoria council may stop funding Christmas decorations, such as Christmas trees, to make the city “more inclusive.” (File photo)

B.C. city considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

Victoria city coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Don’t expect to see a Christmas tree outside at least one Vancouver Island city hall next year.

The City of Victoria is considering scrapping Christmas decorations in favour of separating church and state.

In a motion put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt, city staff have been directed to look at making city winter decorations more culturally inclusive, which may include removing anything related to Christmas, such as Christmas trees and Santa Claus.

“Tax dollars should not go to religious symbols,” he said. “Decorations costs should not be expended on any particular part of Christmas practice.”

Isitt noted that keeping lights up is something everyone can enjoy and that generic symbols such as snowflakes and stars wouldn’t be a problem.

ALSO READ: Butchart Gardens invites you to the ‘Magic of Christmas’

Annually, the city spends $90,000 on seasonal decorations, which includes downtown decorations at Christmas and Chinese New Year, and banners installed in various neighbourhoods throughout the year.

Isitt said he didn’t have a problem with the Chinese New Year decorations because it relates to a “cultural group rather than a religious act.”

He added he has no opposition to people displaying their own holiday decor, as long as the government isn’t involved in its purchase or promotion.

READ MORE: Victoria spends $200,000 on flower baskets every year

“It’s just safer for us to steer clear of religious symbols,” Isitt said.

Downtown lights in the winter are a big incentive for holiday shoppers, the Downtown Victoria Business Association told Isitt, so Isitt argued that by not decorating Christmas trees the funding could also allow for more generic decorations throughout the city.

So far the idea has spurred a lot of pushback, including a petition called “Hands Off Christmas!” that as of Monday had garnered more than 260 signatures.

“If this council wants to kill Christmas then they will have to take away all that it comes with it … including the consumer side of things,” the petition reads. “No more gifts, Santa, turkey dinner, lights and most importantly they have to go to work on Christmas Day without double pay.”

Annually, the city also spends more than $50,000 on Canada Day for police presence alone, and $200,000 for seasonal flower baskets.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Bounding into the great outdoors

Playwest Mountain Experience takes hikers into the wilderness.

Fat Man Yoga offers low intimidation workout

“I needed to do more stretching and more flexibility stuff for my fat man body,” said Ryan Karl.

Feds caught with consultative pants down as groyne issue flares up: PSPC urged to get second opinion

MP Stetski said that of local stakeholders “nobody was aware of the project.”

De Groot family still waiting for inquest after 2014 Slocan shooting

Lawyer for Peter De Groot’s family say many questions remain unanswered

Four-year-old girl one of two killed in highway crash near Creston

The 26-year-old driver of a Saturn SUV was also killed

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Maxime Bernier tells party faithful he will make it into the leaders’ debates

The People’s Party of Canada does not meet the current requirements

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Most Read