Burlington Council Votes to Keep Christmas Run in December

Burlington councillors have voted to keep an annual Christmas event running in December, despite a request from the local businesses to move it to a month earlier.

In a vote of 5 to 2, Burlington city councillors voted during the July 16 meeting to keep the Santa 5K All Santa Race Series to take place on December 8. Ward 2 Coun. Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 6 Coun. Blair Lancaster voted against the motion.

Having the 5K run take place in December would be economically detrimental, according to the Burlington Downtown Business Association. In a memo they sent to Burlington councillors, the BDBA outlined their objections were based on three considerations.

The first issue concerns available parking downtown:One major point of contention was how having the race at the same time as the peak Christmas shopping season would impact downtown businesses.And the association pushed back on the assertion that the race boosted sales for downtown business owners.“We need to consider the some 400 business that operate in the downtown; they are tax-paying businesses. We need to consider their request, since event organizers have been able to accommodate them in the past,” Meed Ward said in her remarks at council.

Of the three solutions the business association offered, they suggested to council that the race be moved to the last Saturday in November.

But while Burlington councillors opted to keep the Santa 5K in December, they did leave some room for future options, such as consult with downtown churches and businesses, the event organizer and past race participants to determine future race dates.

The parks and recreation department is due to report back in November with their findings.

Moving the date away from the Christmas season reflected an appropriate balance of the interest of the race organizer to stage the race, and the needs of existing levy-paying, bricks and mortar businesses in our downtown to do business in December. This was a win-win proposal to keep the race downtown and respect the needs of downtown businesses over Christmas,” Meed Ward said in this blog post.

A survey conducted by the BDBA showed that while close to 90 per cent of businesses stayed open during the 5K, 75 per cent reported lower than average sales during that period.

In comparison, other Christmas events have been held way before December, such as the Santa Claus parade in Toronto and other Christmas events in neighbouring cities such as Mississauga.

So in terms of having this run in November as part of a Christmas themed event before the busy month of December, when most people are focused on their Christmas shopping anyway, made sense.

Do you think the Burlington Santa 5K run should take place in November or December?

Photo courtesy of YouTube

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