The city will install decorative holiday lights downtown by mid-November, but it will be a pilot project restricted to the 400 block Baker Street.
The initiative is a response to public outcry in the past two winters about the distinctively unfestive appearance of Nelson’s downtown at Christmas.
There are two reasons for the limited scope of the pilot project, according to city planner Natalie Andrijancic. First, the city wants to evaluate how well the new lighting will withstand vandalism, a serious problem in past years. And second, some of the planned lighting in the future would have to be installed on new street lamp standards which won’t be installed this year.
Andrijancic told council on Monday that the pilot project is the decision of a committee consisting of representatives of the business community, the city’s heritage working group, the cultural development committee, and the operations manager at Nelson Hydro.
The committee has recommended that all downtown trees be wrapped in warm, white lights and these would be left on all year long. But for this year, they will appear only in the 400 block.
“They have also recommended that the lights on the two coniferous trees on the 400 block of Baker Street be entirely replaced with new lighting, as the current lights are uncoordinated, dulled and damaged,” said Andrijancic.
“They recommend decorating the coniferous trees with warm white bulbs that are lit only during the holiday season.”
When the new streetlamp standards are installed sometime in the next two years, catenary holiday lights and decorative wreaths will be hung from them for the entire length of the street, Andrijancic said.
This year’s pilot project will cost $10,000 for supplies, not including labour. The committee recommended that the installation of the lights be done by city crews, and not by volunteers as in past years.
In the past, vandalism of the lights has cost the city up to $15,000 per year, city manager Kevin Cormack said.
“People come out of the bars and rip them out of the trees.”
The new lights will be installed out of arm’s reach.
The funding for the project will come from the downtown waterfront reserve fund.