Bright Lights Criticism Remains Despite Success

Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin isn't changing his tune about the city's Bright Lights Festival.

As AM800 News told you in August, Bortolin along with four other councillors voted against spending $3-million on the first-year festival.

After public backlash, council agreed to a scaled down version of the event which cost $1.5-million for the event that wraps up on Tuesday.

Bortolin says he never questioned the city's ability to put on a first rate event — he just felt the money was needed elsewhere.

"You know I think I said it when we voted on it — I had full confidence in administration and the parks department that they could put on a beautiful show," says Bortolin. "If we're going to spend $1.5-million and then $3-million, it's bound to be a beautiful show."

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Bright Lights Windsor (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Bortolin feels instead of annualizing a $3-million festival the cash could be better used elsewhere.

"You know when we have alley infrastructure that's sorely in need of safety things like lights in the alleys and repairs in the alleys for example, a $3-million expenditure on an event like this to me is not a municipal priority," says Bortolin.

However, Bortolin admits by and large, feedback has been positive.

"I have gotten some complaints about the parking. We knew that would be an issue in the neighbourhood surrounding it. Anytime there's an event this big, there's always going to be some challenges with something like parking," says Bortolin. "But, overall from what I've been able to see online and everything being shared, it looked like it was a success and definitely people have enjoyed it."

Along with Bortolin, councillors Irek Kusmiercyzk, Bill Marra, Chris Holt and Hilary Payne voted against the initial plan to put on the festival.

— with files from Rob Hindi.