Nelson Festival of Lights will once again receive $10,000 from the City of Nelson to brighten up Baker Street this coming winter.
The community group originally requested $33,000 string Christmas lights on buildings and trees downtown, but scaled back their proposal to only include the buildings at the request of the city. The group also received $10,000 last year to kick off the project.
This year they plan to install an additional 360 strings of white LED lights, each 15 feet long, that will run along the skyline of the buildings. During the winter months, the lights will be on a timer that switches them on from dusk until midnight. The lights for trees and lamp posts that were purchased last year will also be used again (minus a few strings that were destroyed by vandals).
Nelson city councillor Bob Adams was among the Festival of Lights volunteers who helped put up the lights last winter and remove them in the spring. He pointed out that lights on the buildings could be left up year round and would be out of reach of vandals.
“We understand it’s going to be fairly costly to get them up there, but once they’re up, they last for years and years,” Adams said at a council meeting Monday.
The city will also provide in-kind donation of equipment and labour for the installation of maintenance of the lights, though Adams noted the group was hoping to find a contractor to hang the lights at no cost to the city.
A couple councillors were concerned about ongoing maintenance of the lights and did not want the city to be on the hook for those costs indefinitely.
“We’ve had experience with lights in the downtown and the cost of ongoing maintenance can be formidable,” Councillor Deb Kozak said.
Colin McClure, the city’s chief financial officer, clarified that any work on the lights would be up to the desecration of department heads and council will receive a report back in the spring that includes how much city labour was required to upkeep the lights.
Councillor Robin Cherbo added that he’s had LED lights on his home for three years and has never had to replace a light.
The funding for the lights will come out of the city’s Spurway Trust Fund. Like other legacy funds, there in a principle amount — about $94,000 — that stays in the bank to generate interest. Only the interest — which has built up over a number of years and currently totals about $41,000 — is available to spend.