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Religious-themed Christmas sign installed using city resources over last three years



CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — A Christmas-themed non secular signal put up on the finish of North River Street final month was put up utilizing metropolis assets, says Charlottetown’s mayor. 

The signal, which had the phrase “Jesus is the explanation for the season – Hold Christ in Christmas” has been arrange yearly for the final three years at the price of the town, regardless of it not belonging to the municipality. 

In a Dec. 20 interview, Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown mentioned the signal had initially been put in annually on the finish of Buchannan Drive, the place visitors exits from the Walmart and Residence Depot parking heaps. 

Nonetheless, this yr Scott Adams, supervisor of public works for the town, instructed metropolis officers the signal couldn’t be put in on metropolis property as a result of the town didn’t have a coverage for it, mentioned Brown. 

Brown mentioned he referred to as the signal’s proprietor, Kenny Zakem, and beneficial he contact the province to see if he may put the join on a bit of its land throughout the metropolis, similar to the previous Prince Edward Residence property. 

Brown mentioned that’s when he came upon the signal was being put up by metropolis employees. 

“Kenny phoned me again and mentioned, ‘Yeah, we will put the join, however you guys put it up for us.’ I mentioned, ‘What?’” Brown mentioned. 

“I mentioned ‘look, Kenny, this would be the final yr we shall be doing it as a result of I didn’t know we had been doing it for you. I believed you had been placing it up your self.’” 

A favour 

Initially, Zakem had put in the signal himself. 

When he initially approached the town about putting in the check in 2020, Zakem requested former councillor Mike Duffy if he may set up the signal himself on the land on the finish of Buchannan Drive, he mentioned throughout a Dec. 30 cellphone interview. 

After some backwards and forwards, he mentioned he bought the go-ahead and put the join himself. 

“I put it up initially with 2 by 4s and stuff. I’m not the best carpenter on the planet, so I in all probability didn’t brace it in addition to I ought to have,” he mentioned. “A powerful wind got here and took it down, so I phoned the town and requested them the place they bought these large sq. posts, one thing sturdier ’trigger I wished to place it up proper. Earlier than I knew it, they mentioned, ‘We’ll put it up for you.’” 

Zakem mentioned when the following yr rolled round, the town put the join once more. Nonetheless, he mentioned this yr was the primary yr putting in the signal grew to become a problem. 

“I referred to as a number of councillors, and so they had been supportive of it, however they mentioned it was out of their fingers,” mentioned Zakem. 

On the suggestion of Brown, Zakem referred to as the province and bought permission to put in the signal on the land on the finish of North River Street. That’s when he requested about getting it put in, because it had been earlier than, and was instructed this might be the final yr. 

“I don’t thoughts doing it myself,” he mentioned. “The town is now not placing it up for me, which is okay. I’ve no downside with that, I simply need to have the ability to put it in a visual space.” 

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says he was surprised to hear the city had been installing Kenny Zakem's sign over the last few years. He says this past December was the last time. - Contributed
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says he was shocked to listen to the town had been putting in Kenny Zakem’s signal over the previous couple of years. He says this previous December was the final time. – Contributed

‘Motive for the season’ 

Zakem mentioned he didn’t thoughts having the check in a brand new spot – and for a restricted time – so long as it bought its message ahead.  

He mentioned he had created the check in 2020 after he grew to become annoyed with now not listening to “Merry Christmas” being mentioned in public or talks about Christ and the Christian which means of the vacation. 

“I simply wish to maintain that message alive and in individuals’s ideas as that’s what it is all about, not simply shopping for presents, going buying and being pressured as a result of you may’t afford issues,” he mentioned.  

“It’s the time for getting collectively and giving, like God gave us Christ.” 

Zakem mentioned he’s not frightened about the place he’ll place the signal subsequent yr, as he is aware of individuals with property the place he may seemingly put it up on. 

Lack of coverage 

Whereas the signal has since been taken down, discussions round it being on metropolis property aren’t new. Plans for a brand new coverage on the subject have been within the works in 2021, mentioned Brown. 

“This dialogue began again in October of 2021. On the time it began with human assets and communications and (a former employees member) with communications was going to place ahead a coverage and produce it to HR,” he mentioned. 

Nonetheless, resulting from employees adjustments, Brown mentioned that coverage was set to the facet and by no means moved ahead. 

“Now we’re again at it once more, and I plan to carry it up at our (financial, tourism and cultural growth) standing committee assembly in January. I’ve already given discover on the December assembly that I wish to have a dialogue about this within the new yr,” he mentioned. 

Whereas the town does have laws round signage in its zoning and growth bylaw, Brown wasn’t clear on why that part of the bylaw wouldn’t apply on this state of affairs. 

Brown additionally didn’t disclose how a lot it prices to put in the signal annually. SaltWire Community contacted the town for clarification on these questions however didn’t obtain a response by print time.

– With recordsdata by Dave Stewart

Cody McEachern is a enterprise reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He will be reached by e mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @CodyInHiFi.

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