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Burnaby Christmas display lights up again after forced to go dark over COVID-19

Last Updated Jan 8, 2021 at 8:02 pm PST

Summary

Now that Joel DuPlessis is allowed to turn his Christmas lights back on, he's keeping them up all month long

In December, DuPlessis was forced to shut down the festive display over COVID-19 concerns

It took two weeks for the City of Burnaby to change its mind and allow the lights back on

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — A Burnaby man plans to keep his Christmas lights on all January after he was forced to shut them off early over COVID-19 orders.

Joel DuPlessis has set up an impressive Christmas lights display that has been drawing families outside his home for two decades, and last year wasn’t any different, except for the pandemic.

He still took off November, as he does every year, to adorn the outside of his home top to bottom with twinkling displays, giant sparkling snowmen, and a tree made completely out of lights that stands taller than his house.

But when the crowds starting gathering and growing larger than he’d seen before over the holidays, DuPlessis was faced with a new problem — onlookers not staying safely apart despite his efforts to allow more space.

“I usually have it allowing people onto my property and come into various areas of it. So I actually made it full street-view only to keep people off and on city property only. It’s 85 feet across the front of my property so it’s a lot room for people to observe,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“Unfortunately, there were a number of times where people were just getting a little too close.”

Chrismas display considered ‘event’

RCMP knocked on his door on Boxing Day, telling him he had to shut the display down because of the crowds, forcing DuPlessis to go dark.

His home was considered an “event” under provincial health order definitions after a complaint was made against him.

DuPlessis tried contacting the health authority, provincial health ministry, RCMP, local MLAs, as well as the mayor and city council hoping for a change of heart.

“Eventually even neighbours were contacting the city,” he says.

It took weeks to convince the City of Burnaby to change its decision before he was allowed to light up again, on the condition he’s making sure public health orders are being followed.

“So I think they’ve looked at it, they’ve talked to the provincial health officer, and identified how I would be able to come back on and how I was singled out,” he says, adding he hasn’t heard of anyone else having to turn off their displays.

In an emailed statement to NEWS 1130, a spokesperson for the city says it is “trying to strike a balance and take a measured approach to protect public safety ” and allow DuPlessis to keep his lights on.

Now, DuPlessis says he’s glad he can bring some joy into people’s lives again and continue collecting donations for the B.C. Children’s Hospital, and for a little longer than usual.

“Since I got my lights back on, I’m going to try and keep the spirit going and keep a little light lit or an entire house lit, to try and bring spirits a little higher during this dark time,” he says,

He’s raised about $3,500 for the B.C. Children’s Hospital so far.