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

ChristmasCity of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Additional Penticton washrooms open in time for weekend

Washrooms at Riverside, Skaha Lake Park, Okanagan Lake Park, more, now open

First day back; attending elementary school amid COVID-19

“… Social connections are certainly important for kids,” said Carmi principal Dave Ritchie.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip appeals for living-donor kidney transplant

Okanagan Nation Alliance Grand Chief has chronic kidney disease

Column: Penticton Regional Hospital returning to ‘new normal’

If we’ve learned anything over the last few months, it’s how important good health is in our lives.

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Vernon protesters take Black Lives Matter movement to park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Bear strolls into Okangan homeowner’s living room

Conservation officers are searching for the bear, which entered a home in the Foothills area

Most Read