Vacation mild up plans marred by racist feedback despatched Edmonton mayor’s approach

“In retrospect, we should have communicated activities better, and we apologize that some people were led to believe that Churchill Square would not be a festive place. However, that oversight did not justify some of the activities which followed. A small number of people are using this situation to make racist attacks on the staff of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association and the Mayor. Those actions do not reflect the views of either the vast majority of Edmontonians or the organizations we lead. They are inappropriate. We do not tolerate online hate and bullying, and we will not be swayed by such behaviour.

“Earlier this year, the EDBA made the decision to move its annual holiday light up celebrations to Rice Howard Way. This free event launches on Saturday, December 3. Edmontonians are invited to join in the festive spirit, and enjoy new art installations, music, a Christmas market, games and holiday illuminations. These events are part of the EDBA’s ongoing work to support downtown vibrancy.

“Concurrently, City Administration made a decision to support the EDBA in the evolution of its holiday light up, and to expand the City’s festive programming on Churchill Square. For this year’s celebrations, all of the trees surrounding Churchill Square will be lit and decorated as a ‘festive forest,’ complemented with lanterns and a special art installation of ‘Forest Guides’ and ‘Peace Under Pressure’ by Ken Hacke Arts. The City Hall ice rink will open soon for Edmontonians to enjoy skating and weekend programming provided by the Edmonton Arts Council, including free skate rentals and music. Inside, City Hall will be filled with seasonal holiday decor.

“While we understand that some are disappointed by the evolution of these holiday celebrations, we want to reassure Edmontonians that there will be fun and family-friendly holiday activities throughout December — including the illumination of living holiday trees in both Churchill Square and Rice Howard Way. To be clear, these were our decisions, and were not made by the Mayor or City Council.

“We are genuinely excited by the programming that has been developed for Rice Howard Way and Churchill Square and invite you to join in these events, and to celebrate the true spirit of the holidays.”

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