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

City of Victoria considers scrapping funds for Christmas decorations

City Coun. Ben Isitt doesn’t think the government should pay for any religious symbols

Don’t expect to see a Christmas tree outside 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,” Isitt 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


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

ChristmasCity of Victoria

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

Just Posted

Saanich man dies from injuries after serious crash on Six Mile Road

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

Close call has North Saanich councillor appealing for traffic safety

Coun. Jack McClintock is using an incident involving his daughter to highlight traffic safety

‘Guard cat’ retires early from B.C. Aviation Museum

North Saanich museum finds forever home for mascot Marcus the cat

Federal government tenders remediation of Sidney’s Reay Creek pond

With tendering deadline of June 12, Transport Canada admits project is behind schedule

Saanich Peninsula steps into post-pandemic phase

Pending partial re-opening of local schools signals new start

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

UPDATE: B.C.’s Central Kootenay issues evacuation orders for hundreds of residents due to flooding

An evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

PHOTOS: Thousands gather at Vancouver Art Gallery to protest racism

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Number of students returning is a wild card as B.C. schools reopen Monday

A common model will see other teachers work four days a week in class then the fifth remotely,

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

Most Read