WorldServe Thrift Store on Johnston Road is one of the city businesses that has embraced Christmas-themed window decoration.

WorldServe Thrift Store on Johnston Road is one of the city businesses that has embraced Christmas-themed window decoration.

White Rock BIA helps light up city businesses

Strings of lights and a Christmas decoration contest spur seasonal efforts

White Rock businesses are getting lit up – with a little help from the city’s BIA.

The White Rock BIA has provided more than 300 businesses with 35-foot strings of LED lights as a way to jump-start their own Christmas decoration efforts.

An added incentive is the organization’s Christmas decorating contest for businesses – deadline for entries Friday, Dec. 12 at 4:30 p.m. – in which the winner  judged as having the best decorated store front will receive a trip for two to Whistler.

BIA executive director Douglas Smith said the light strings are courtesy of the organization and provided by Star Illumination, which already works with a number of BIAs around the Lower Mainland.

The company has been commissioned to do some sizable installations in the uptown area this year, he said – including decorating trees adjacent to the Five Corners Cafe and Laura’s Coffee Corner and the clock tower and a tree next to the Buy-Low Foods parking lot on Johnston Rd.

Smith said the idea of giving businesses the LED lights came up at a BIA board meeting.

“Last year we started the decorating contest, but we decided we can’t ask businesses to spend a lot of money on decorating,” Smith said. “This year we decided, as a kind of starter, let’s give every business a string of lights.”

Smith said this year’s Christmas lighting program is part of a much larger lighting project, for which the BIA hopes to receive support from the City of White Rock.

“We’ve been in close contact with the city in terms of establishing a longer-range plan for seasonal lighting, as part of the city’s beautification and enhancement program,” he said.

“The idea is to have a five-year seasonal lighting plan – that way at the end of five years you have something substantial, rather than doing things piecemeal, which never really achieves anything.”

Smith noted that lighting can be much more significant to a community than providing a pretty glow to the streets in December.

“Ladysmith on Vancouver Island has built itself up as a Christmas lights capital and gets a lot of visitors – it can have a very positive effect from an economic development standpoint.”

And Smith said lighting doesn’t have to be exclusively a December feature.

“If we’re doing installations, we don’t want them to be just for Christmas – we’d like to have lights all year round,” he said.

“We could have starfish, or sand dollars or a seahorses – effects that could be put in for different seasons, which would reflect a sea-side community.”

Smith suggested that if the BIA invested $25,000 and the city contributed $20,000 to a long-term lighting project the effects could be significant.

“If we’re going to do something, lets do it really, really well,” he said. “Something well-planned, well executed and properly funded will have a real impact.”