Talking about city Christmas decorations

Lisa Goudy
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Budget committee meets on Feb. 7, 2014 at city hall.

Residents can expect Christmas lights to be replaced and to see them in place for Christmas in October again this year.

Budget committee defeated two Christmas-related motions at its meeting on Friday at city hall. The first was a motion to eliminate the $20,000 to purchase Christmas decorations from the five-year capital plan and the second was a motion to not put Christmas decorations up until after Remembrance Day.

“I do believe that there are things that we should be looking at focusing further on,” said Coun. Dawn Luhning on the first motion, which she moved. “I know some of the decorations have been retrofitted. So I know we’ve been piecing it together, but I thought they looked pretty good these last couple of years.”

She added if council is going to continually implement tax increases each year for infrastructure, councillors should “really take a look at some of the areas that maybe just aren’t necessary right now.”

The Christmas decoration replacement program addresses the deteriorated decorations in the city purchased in the 1950s. The program, implemented in 2009, is replacing decorations with energy-efficient decorations.

 “I know we could focus all in one area, we could shift all kinds of money there, but there’s kind of a balance of things that you need to do and winters can be pretty dreary on the Prairies at times,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “I would hate to see this program be set aside. I would prefer that we look at a number of options that are out there.”

She said last week at SUMA, she heard about how SaskPower offers some support for “outdoor festive lighting.”

Coun. Heather Eby said she made that motion when she was first on council to “make a difference.”

"In the big picture, it didn’t change a darn thing and it did get some pushback from people in the community,” she said. “I totally understand it, but I just can’t support it.”

With Coun. Patrick Boyle absent, Higgins, Eby and Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick were opposed and Luhning, Coun. Don Mitchell and Coun. Brian Swanson were in favour.

Luhning’s second motion was to not put Christmas decorations up until after Remembrance Day out of respect for veterans.

“I just think it’s an issue of respect. I get this complaint every year from a number of people,” she said. “Even though the lights are turned off at night, in the daytime, they are truly visible for everybody.”

Kirkpatrick said at Tourism Moose Jaw, the lights are in place and on for Christmas in October and then turned off until after Remembrance Day.

“I had a call from someone who was upset we had them up already and when I assured her that they wouldn’t be turned after Christmas in October, she was fine with that,” she said. “We put them up when the weather’s decent.”

Myron Gulka-Tiechko, city clerk/solicitor, said a lot of the people who put up Christmas decorations also do snow removal. If the lights aren’t up before the snow flies, it could negatively affect snow removal.

With only Luhning and Mitchell in favour, it was defeated.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

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