Edmonton plans sustainable, cost-effective Christmas tree at Churchill Square

Edmontonians can once again visit a large Christmas tree outside city hall. But unlike years past, it won’t be cut down and brought in.

The City of Edmonton is inviting the public to be some of the first to see the 40-foot tall White Spruce tree growing in Churchill Square decorated for the “Bright Light Skate Night” Saturday.

For years the Downtown Business Association (DBA) organized and paid for the large tree in Churchill Square, but pulled out in 2022 to focus on festive events closer to businesses.

The city faced backlash for not stepping in, at the time pointing to financial and environmental reasons.

But this year, a statement says using the existing tree was chosen as an environmentally sustainable, cost-effective option over harvesting a real tree.

At 40 feet, the White Spruce near the Churchill Square amphitheatre will be smaller than trees previously cut and brought, typically over 50 feet. But the price tag will also be smaller.

In a statement to CityNews, city spokesperson Karen McDonnell says the cost to “decorate an existing tree with interactive lights and seasonal decorations is $50,000 in year one (this includes installation equipment and labour), and is expected to decrease to approximately $8,000 in subsequent years (i.e., $5,000 for install, and $3,000 to refresh the lights and décor).”

The cost of procuring, installing and decorating a cut tree was estimated at $124,000 in 2022.

The free Bright Light Skate Night is Saturday from 4-8 p.m.

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