SHERBROOKE – In a show of support for Sherbrooke’s Old-Fashioned Christmas, council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has appointed its warden and one other representative to a new standing committee for the popular – but volunteer-starved – annual event.
The move followed a request from the iconic festival’s volunteer committee chair and treasurer, Dana O’Connell, “to show that the municipality is a stakeholder in this event, and that this is the way that council can represent,” Chief Administrative Officer Marissa Jordan told council’s committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 7.
She added, “From the discussion with Mr. O’Connell, [an Old-Fashioned Christmas standing committee of council] would be permanent.”
O’Connell first raised the issue of waning stakeholder leadership during his presentation to the committee of the whole on July 20. He said, without a renewed effort by St. Mary’s council, the area’s business community and Sherbrooke Village Museum, the show’s days were numbered.
“I seek your assistance,” he said, at that time, adding: “I don’t want to sound like the Grinch, but Old-Fashioned Christmas could be in jeopardy of not happening. [This] January, there will be a decision as to whether or not to proceed with the event in 2023.”
Pointing out that the event spends, on average, approximately $15,000 on local goods and services, and supports many non-profit community organizations, including 4H, boy scouts and churches.
“Last year, alone, we had over 4,500 visitors. In recent years, we have had up to 10,000 visitors … All of this brings awareness and tourism to our community.”
At the Sept. 7 committee of the whole meeting, Warden Greg Wier said, “I don’t see a problem with a standing committee [of council]. If we really think it’s important … if we just decided … we should do it. I guess you can put down that Warden Wier and Councillor [Beulah] Malloy have graciously volunteered to be on that for the remainder of this year.”
Council unanimously approved the recommendation.