City moves to sack Bert Flinn Park’s Christmas decorations by next season

christmas-decorations-sacked
The decorations have raise some environmental concerns, according to city officials. photo supplied

Bert Flinn Park’s Christmas decorators may soon be calling city officials “grinches” after a move to ban their holiday activity.

Over the last five years, locals have been spreading holiday spirit all over the park. Too much for some.

Last year, more than 70 trees were decorated with tinsel, ornaments, candy canes, and other decorations, leading to environmental concerns.

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“There is a concern from other park users … that it’s not actually a very safe practice for wildlife,” said Coun. Amy Lubik at the Nov. 22 council meeting.

The Parks and Recreation Commission recommended prohibiting the new tradition at their Oct. 12 meeting, and Lubik put forward a motion to adopt.

Most of the decorations are cleaned up by mid-January, but the commission noted that participation appeared to be growing, along with the cleanup effort by city staff.

The report stated that the activity encourages more off-trail traffic in an environmentally sensitive area, and the materials used can pose a risk to fauna.

Animals can become entangled in tinsel, or harmed by broken glass or small plastics mistaken for food.

Lubik said she knows the decorators are “well intentioned” but that the city needs to “hold that spirit in our hearts while protecting the forest.”

She advanced the commission’s recommendations, which suggested creating additional pop-up locations for holiday decorating within the city and along with a messaging campaign.

Lahti noted that staff would not be able to formalize any rules by this holiday season, so the prohibition won’t be immediate.

The news will come as a disappointment to some, and a relief to others. The seasonal activity has become a polarizing topic on social media.

The city has been tracking comments on social media over the last two holiday seasons.

 “Bunch of grinches can’t enjoy Christmas,” wrote one commenter. “It is a beautiful annual tradition that families enjoy tremendously,” added another.

Others however, have expressed worry over the garbage left behind. 

One commenter noted that they filled up three garbage bags of broken and whole decorations, candy wrappers, and pins and tinsel that was “riddled” over the forest floor.

Coun. Callan Morrision said he knows local residents are just trying to spread holiday cheer, and most have been cleaning up after themselves, but that council can’t put their riparian areas at risk.

Staff will report back to council with several options on how to implement the new policy in the future.

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