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Bah-humbug: Port Moody to look at banning holiday decorations in Bert Flinn Park

The decorations first started appearing in the park in about 2016
An example of some of the decorations being hung in Port Moody's Bert Flinn Park.

Port Moody could soon be saying “bah-humbug” to holiday decorations in Bert Flinn Park.

On Tuesday (Nov. 22), council tasked city staff to report back on implementing a ban on the practice of hanging ornaments and tinsel on trees and bushes in the park.

It will also investigate opportunities to create pop-up decorating locations elsewhere in the city.

In a report, Esin Gozukara, chair of Port Moody’s parks and recreation commission, said decorations first started appearing in the park’s natural off-trail areas in 2016 and have been increasing ever since.

She added the trend picked up steam during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gozukara said the decorations usually begin appearing through the month of December and are mostly cleaned up after New Years, however, “growing participation is concerning due to materials used in decorating that may persist in the environment, potential attractant issues and ecological concerns from off-trail foot traffic.”

An earlier presentation to the parks and recreation commission by environmental technician Emily Gutenberg noted the decorating effort doesn’t seem to be organized, but it has become a polarizing topic on local social media forums. One post characterized the practice as “forest graffiti.”

Another said “beautiful natural spaces deserve to be left pristine.”

Some, however, lauded the seasonal display.

“When I see random trees decorated, it makes me smile,” said one observer in 2021.

“It brings me so much joy as I walk through,” said another.

But, Gutenberg’s presentation pointed out, decorations have been observed hanging from trees in sensitive wetland areas and broken glass bulbs have been found on forest trails.

During discussions at Tuesday’s council meeting, Coun. Callan Morrison acknowledged while the decorators “come from a place of positivity,” the plastic parts and tinsel they use can be a danger to wildlife.

Coun. Amy Lubik said the city should tread carefully to respect the decorators’ holiday spirit while still protecting the forest.

However, Mayor Meghan Lahti said any ban wouldn’t be implemented until a Christmas future, as it will take staff time to compile its report.