Windsor pulls the plug on Bright Lights 2020
The City will consider alternatives for holiday display lighting this season at Monday's council meeting
The City of Windsor is pulling the plug on this year's Bright Lights festival — and considering alternative ways to spread holiday cheer throughout the city.
Bright Lights Windsor typically runs from December to January with a budget of $592,000 each year. That funds both the festival, and additional lighting throughout the city.
According to a report going to city council on Monday, with the festival's suspension, administration has been looking at alternative holiday lighting options.
Lighting up other parts of Windsor
Options include taking some of the Bright Light displays that would normally be at Jackson Park, and place them in other parts of Windsor.
"This alternative would still allow for the displays to be seen throughout the City and it would help to disperse the large crowds that would normally be seen at Bright Lights Windsor," the report said.
However, the report indicated that there is a security risk that comes with that option. Since the displays would be expensive to replace, "operating multiple outdoor displays would require security for each location and would add significant costs," the report stated.
An alternative to that would be to use the displays at some of the City's open indoor facilities, like the WFCU Centre and City Hall.
Partnering up with local BIAs
The City is also looking at teaming up with local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) for a matching-fund partnership that would allow the areas to apply for City funding to enhance their own holiday displays, the report explained.
"The funds provided would need to be used specifically to purchase or rent temporary beautification items such as holiday displays or lighting, window displays, floral items or it could be used for infrastructure upgrades to display these items," it said.
Each BIA would need to come up with its own initial funding, and then the City would match that. The report stated that the City would fund up to a total of $180,000 between Windsor's nine BIAs.
City administration is also looking into opportunities available through the Reconnect Festival and Event Program through the province's Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Ontario is investing $9 million through the program to support municipalities during COVID-19.
The report stated that the program could potentially offer "enhanced programming" during this year's holiday season, but administration still needs approval to submit the application.
City council will be discussing all of these options during Monday's council meeting.