The Strate Scapes Landscaping truck and the Pilon Tools truck sit side-by-side, waiting to head out to the Comox Valley. Photo submitted.

Beloved lighted truck parade returns to the Comox Valley

RCMP reverse stance that forced the cancellation of last year’s tour

A Christmas tradition resumes in the Comox Valley this year, after a brief law-enforced interruption.

The much-loved Comox Valley Christmas Light Trucks will be driving through Comox Valley neighbourhoods this season, after coming to an agreement with Comox Valley RCMP.

The small convoy of trucks, led by a Strate Scapes Landscaping dump truck, drives through the residential areas of the Comox Valley, completely decked out in festive lighting. In addition to touring residential neighbourhoods, the convoy visits care homes, and other homes where people may be confined due to illness or disability, to spread Christmas cheer and to collect donations for charities.

The tradition, which began in 2013, was halted midway through the 2017 Christmas season, when Comox Valley RCMP issued a warning to two drivers, saying the Christmas lights violated the Motor Vehicle Act and could be distracting for drivers.

READ: Festive trucks sidelined by police

Erin Kaetler and her husband own Strate Scapes Landscaping 2012 Ltd., the company that started the neighbourhood tour. After the incident last year, Kaetler approached local councils with letters, asking to help them reach a compromise. Despite the effort, the RCMP stood firm on its decision.

READ ALSO: Police won’t waver on stance regarding lighted trucks

Knowing that Insp. Tim Walton had been replaced over the summer, Kaetler called the Comox Valley RCMP detachment on Nov. 17 to see if an arrangement could be made to resume the tradition this year. Her persistence paid off.

“I thought ‘I reached out once and it backfired but I’m going to try this again, because it’s a new fellow. I’m guessing they were probably pretty shocked and embarrassed about how bad it got last year, with the publicity. I don’t think they expected such a [backlash]. I was pretty certain [new detachment commander, Insp. Kurvers] would want things to be different.”

She was right.

“I just phoned and left Inspector Kurvers a voicemail, saying I was hoping to chat with him, and he called me back,” she said. “I have to give credit to Corporal Tori Cliffe. I guess as soon as Inspector Kurvers came in, one of the things they talked about was what had happened last Christmas, and the communication problem.”

After Kurvers spoke with Kaetler, he spoke again with Cliffe, who then called Kaetler a couple of days later, with the good news.

“She told me they had spoken, and were really supportive, and glad that I had called, and they were excited … to work things out and have it be very much different than what happened last year.

“They basically said they don’t see any problem with it, as long as we keep the lights off while we are travelling on the main roads.”

The “season” officially kicks off at the Campbell River Truck Parade next Friday, followed by the Cumberland Truck Parade Saturday.

After that, the convoy starts touring the Comox Valley.

The schedule is posted daily on Comox Valley Christmas Lights Trucks Facebook page.

“We try to figure out every day where we want to go, then we post it. We will make a couple of appearances at the Crown Isle festivities, then head into the neighbourhoods.”

There is a fundraising angle to the tour as well. The drivers collect donations for the food bank as they cruise through the neighbourhoods. Simply listen for the horns, then meet them at the curb.

“Last year we had a whole enclosed trailer full of food in the back of a pick-up truck and a few hundred dollars,” said Kaetler. “People were really supportive.”

Kaetler said there were never any hard feelings from her family’s company regarding last year’s decision, but she is grateful to the RCMP for changing its position.

“We all respect the police and know they have a job to do,” she said. “Just because we don’t agree with a decision doesn’t mean it’s worthy of disrespect. I have a brother who is an RCMP officer, and we do respect what they do. We may not have agreed with their decision, and didn’t care for the way it was handled, but in the end, it’s all about keeping things respectful. We are just happy to have a new opportunity, with somebody else in charge, who has a different view of working with the community.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Committee endorses $4.5M Qualicum Beach all-season turf project

Letter of support sought from regional district for grant application

B.C. Greens hurrying to get candidates in place for provincial election

No candidates announced yet in Nanaimo, Nanaimo-North Cowichan or Parksville-Qualicum

Parksville Museum on track to add digital carillon

Plans is to ring it for first time on city’s next birthday

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Island Corridor Foundation launches survey on importance of Vancouver Island rail

“ICF remains 100 per cent committed to the restoration of full rail service on Vancouver Island”

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read