Two local women want to get Nelson in the Christmas spirit and are asking the City to spend $29,000 on new Christmas lights.
Joy Barrett and Maureen Crawford made their request at a May 28 council meeting. They said the money could come from the Spurway Trust Fund, which currently has $60,000 in it.
“Out plan is two fold, to help get locals in the Christmas spirit and to attract visitors who will come to see the lights, and stay to shop at our stores,” explained Barrett, who is Nelson’s cultural developer officer but said she was addressing the City as a resident and a mother of young children.
Crawford sits on the Nelson Kootenay Lake tourism board and is owner of the Willow Point Beach House. She told council that in previous years she’s heard people ask why the Nelson doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
“Last year there were hardly any lights up,” Crawford said. “There was nothing to keep people downtown.”
To change that, the pair are asking the City to buy enough lights to decorate three large Christmas trees and 40 smaller trees, as well as six illuminated Christmas banners to hang on lampposts and strings of lights for key buildings.
The estimated price of $29,000 does not include instillation or energy costs.
“The initial outlay to fund this project is high, but after the lights are paid for it will just be maintenance costs year to year,” said Barrett
In addition to the lights, the women plan to organize some friendly competition between businesses by holding a “best dressed window” competition. And they want to have kids of all ages compete for the title of “best elf” during the tree lighting ceremony.
They will also be asking businesses to stay open later in the weeks leading up to Christmas, to encourage evening shopping.
“I’ve gone up and down Baker Street talking to business owners, and there’s a lot of support for this,” Crawford said.
Coun. Deb Kozak said the City used to put up more Christmas lights, but in recent years has opted to use the funds elsewhere. She also noted problems in the past with Christmas lights bring vandalized.
But Crawford said new lighting technology could address both of Kozak’s concerns. New lights are easier to install and more energy efficient, so they cost less to run over the long term. To avoid vandalism, she said, lights are designed to be placed higher in the trees where people can’t reach them and mirrors reflect the light down.
Council referred the matter to its staff, asking for a report back on the viability of purchasing the lights.