Garbage truck Santa will be back on the road this holiday season.
Two weeks ago there was a public outcry after the city said it couldn’t spare one of its garbage trucks for Santa to use to make his rounds. The original truck was sold when the fleet of sanitation vehicles was updated.
Instead, the city offered one of its one-ton trucks.
While that truck would still be strung with Christmas lights, the city, citing safety as an issue, wouldn’t let Santa turn those lights on while driving.
Apparently, that strayed too far from tradition for many people.
City councillors were inundated with emails demanding that they take action to save garbage truck Santa.
In response to the public outcry, Coun. Kirk Cameron tabled a motion to do just that Monday night.
His motion called for the city, “to continue putting on city streets during the Christmas season, a mobile waste management truck, lit with Christmas lights and driven by our own St. Nick.”
Although the entire council wanted to see the tradition preserved, there was an outstanding concern about safety.
“Whether we like it or not times are changing, and yes there hasn’t been an accident in the last 20 years but what are we going to do, wait for an accident to happen?” asked Coun. Jocelyn Curteanu.
Cameron was only able to muster support from Coun. Betty Irwin, so the motion failed.
Instead, the city unanimously adopted a motion proposed by city administration. Even Cameron and Irwin said it struck the right balance between safety and tradition.
“Although the better motion was defeated, I see some serious merit in this one,” said Cameron. “It’s still moving in the direction of where we want to go.”
Although the city won’t be giving Santa a garbage truck this year, it will get volunteers to decorate a truck to look just like one.
This truck won’t just be handing out candy. It will also be picking up donations for the Whitehorse food bank.
Santa will be allowed to put the lights on, but he won’t be allowed to drive. Instead, the city will have a city employee to chauffeur around a Santa provided by the Canadian Cancer Society.
“We’re trying to integrate this program into more of a community-based benefit, so we’re looking at partnerships with other organizations,” said Brian Crist, the city’s director of operations.
While Santa’s garbage truck will look a lot like the real thing, it will actually just be a facade, and while there will be a guy in a red suit riding around spreading Christmas cheer, there’s a possibility Santa too will be just a reasonable facsimile.
The hope is that Wayne Henderson, the city employee who started the tradition and has been the garbage truck Santa for the last 20 years, will continue to don a suit, right now that isn’t clear, said Crist.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet, but certainly if he’s willing to participate to be part of the amended program, so to speak, then by all means he’ll be welcome to take part in it,” he said.
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