Keep the Christmas lights on - The Orca

Keep the Christmas lights on


Ada Slivinski: “On those nights when we wake up in the wee hours, I for one would prefer to see the neighbours’ lights twinkling than stare into a dark void of unlit houses.”

In a year when so many of the usual joys have been taken away, seeing Christmas lights going up with what seems like more than usual gusto is one way the spirit of the season has started shining through the darkest nights.

That light was momentarily dampened by a District of North Vancouver proposal to ban Christmas lights from being on past 11pm, enforceable by a $100 fine.

Imagine turning on your lights at 4pm when it’s starting to get dark, and falling asleep on your couch – only to be woken up by a bylaw ticket.

The idea was part of a broader nuisance bylaw that encompassed nuisance lighting, noise, and retaining walls. According to a statement from the District, the idea to dampen Christmas lights came from a few complaints in 2019.

The shocking thing is that in the darkest days of a second Covid wave, this was the discussion taking up council’s time: a year-old complaint about…lights.

Small businesses are taking on record levels of debt, struggling to just keep their doors open – and, ironically, the lights on. Residents are losing jobs or working harder than ever and risking exposure to Covid in essential services. Outbreaks are hitting long-term care homes and hospitals. While in some ways it’s understandable that the normal business of Council must go on, a handful of complaints about lighting could and should have been pushed to a later date.

“My view is that the community is not ready for it, and even though I do see that we need to have some discussion on that matter in the long run, I’m not doing it as part of an omnibus review of this matter,” District Mayor Mike Little told the local paper.

At this moment, council should be focused on the major problems at hand not fussing with the collective thermostat.

If people aren’t sleeping as well now, it’s more likely due to stress, and the isolation of a second wave of a major pandemic than some holiday light pollution. And on those nights when we wake up in the wee hours and look out the window, I for one would prefer to see the neighbours’ lights twinkling than stare into a dark void of unlit houses.

Ada Slivinski is the Founder & Principal of Jam PR, a boutique agency focused on helping small businesses get big exposure. You can reach her at