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

VIDEO: Collision in Surrey breaks axle off SUV

Two people were reportedly sent to hospital

Students spend night at White Rock shelter

Students hear powerful stories about homelessness on the Semiahmoo Peninsula

A look at White Rock’s next council agenda

Following a public hearing, council will hear annual reports from a number of its committees

‘Meet Your Muslim Neighbour’ event bridges gap on Semiahmoo Peninsula, association says

Event serves as an educational space for residents in South Surrey-White Rock

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

VIDEO: Giants toppled by visiting Hurricanes

Sunday afternoon play at Langley Events Centre saw a team from Lethbridge defeat Vancouver, 6-0

Security camera records hatchet attack on Langley store owner

Target escaped uninjured, but was ‘upset’ by incident

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Cougars 4-0

Goaltender David Tendeck turned aside all 38 Prince George shots for his WHL-leading third shutout

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

Most Read