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Why did the route change? We have been looking for a new route for many years – first because of construction issues, then because of how construction changed access to Downtown (corners are too tight so we reversed the route) and finally, the end zone was not safe and now is no longer available. Discussions have been ongoing since 2016 to change the route as we had outgrown our end zone and the situation was becoming very unsafe for the 1,500 people in the parade.

We want the Downtown District involved (but families with small children aren’t there to shop) We are in the business of creating free events for the families in our community.  This year, we’ve been able to partner with the BDIA to showcase the Downtown District with pre-parade activities downtown with the Christmas Market (attractions, food, beverages) on Front St and with all the parking open now, lots more people will be able to walk along our beautiful, reconstructed downtown area.  By adding other neighbourhoods to the event, we are also partnering to plan a pre-parade party in East Hill (Robin Jeffrey) Park, and a “traditional Christmas” gathering at Glanmore House. Bleacher seating will also be available in some locations this year.  We imagine that families from all over will be able to find easy access to a parade viewing location anywhere along Bridge St. without the congestion of having to park on Pinnacle Street. Families living in the Bridge St. West and East neighbourhoods will enjoy it steps from their homes.

Considerations included:

  • find a route which would keep the parade moving through the Downtown District. Many routes have been discussed for areas All OVER THE CITY which did not include any part of the Downtown District but we refused to consider those.
  • finding a route without twists and turns as the turning radius on many corners are very dangerous for the big floats … the alternative would be to eliminate them
  • finding a wide open well lighted space to assemble the parade and an end zone that offers the same
  • parking for hundreds of parents picking up or dropping off children at either end

Why are you taking business away from downtown?  We have come to understand the value to business on parade day wasn’t really about shopping but having people on the streets to look through their windows.  Most stores are not open on Sundays until very close to Christmas. Some stores were very gracious and opened to serve hot chocolate or other treats and they are certainly welcome to continue with that tradition.  We actually believe that with parking lots open, more people will find their way to meet others and actually see more of the Downtown than if walked and planted their chair for viewing.  Now everything will be accessible and people can park anywhere for free and walk to visit businesses who may be open, or get to the route along Bridge Street or the activities the BDIA is organizing where the parade is passing in the Downtown core.

This route is hard for walkers with so many hills? We are traveling down the Bridge Street West hill at Highland Avenue as we have since 2016. The only uphill grade is at Bridge & Church Streets which is easier to climb than the train overpass on North Front Street that we have walked over for the past 15 years. The route is a bit longer, but all participants are aware of the changes when they sign up and the majority have floats to jump on. The bands are not bothered by the route change as many of them march in other City parades with longer routes. 

There are 5 seniors apartment buildings downtown who can no longer watch the parade? There are actually 3 apartment complexes downtown … 2 McNabb Towers buildings and the Quinte Living Centre. The Chamber & BDIA are working with residents to provide buses to take them to a pre-arranged site along the route where they can watch from the warmth of the bus, or, stand along the street, with access to facilities as well.  

I can’t watch the parade from my house anymore?  There are some homes along the old route who will no longer have the convenience of watching Santa through their windows. That is very unfortunate. This decision however had to be made for safety reasons.

When a route change was made in 2016 there were thousands of young families in the West Hill who could now walk a short :05 from their homes to view the parade without getting into their cars and they have loved it ever since.

In 2019 there will be thousands more families in the East Hill who can do the same. The environmental emissions savings is quite substantial with this new plan. This new route encompasses much more of the City than any parade routes in the past.

There are no public washrooms with the new route?  In 2019 there WILL be portables or indoor washrooms available underneath the grandstand at the Fairgrounds, Downtown, The Armouries, East Hill Park, Glanmore House, Eastminster Church and Bayview Mall. Tim Hortons will also be open in the west, and, Tim Hortons and MacDonalds in the east.

This route is so long, did no one consider the kids or marching bands?  The route is a bit longer but it is straight.  Participating in the parade is voluntary, marching bands are invited to participate and none have indicated the route is too long.  Most children will ride on floats and the end zone at Bayview Mall is a much safer place for their parents to pick them up so they are also happy with the change. 

Emergency access to the hospital will be cut off from Bridge St.  Emergency services have been consulted at length.  It is one of the greatest concerns with the Front St. route because if there was an accident in the parade or a fire, there would be no way to get to the victim without shutting everything down.  An incident a few years ago resulted in a two-hour delay.  Streets intersecting Bridge St. can be closed very quickly and Police officers will monitor the main ambulance route from Bleecker and will not allow pedestrians in the intersection.  Once the parade passes, each intersection reopens immediately, which allows for access to Dundas St. from Sidney on the west or Farley on the east.  College & Station Streets also remain open.  North Front remains open.

I didn’t know there was a vote on this?  City Council asked for public input following the Council meeting on September 23 when the route was introduced for the third year.  People interested in sharing their concerns were asked to email the City until October 4.  They received over 50 emails – 30 that indicated support, 18 that had concerns and 4 that were indifferent. The Belleville Chamber received an additional 30 emails, mostly from participants and volunteers, supporting the change in the route.  This wasn’t really a vote but an opportunity to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything in our planning.  Watch for a survey after the parade – if you attend, we’d be happy to hear about your experience!


This route which “bridges” 3 neighbourhoods in our City triples the audience for the parade. All viewers can access the route easily and safely to appreciate the efforts of the float builders and bands and get into the spirit of the Holiday Season. 

While we recognize that any change is difficult, we hope that the City will embrace this new concept and give it the chance it deserves for 2019. Come out and support the hundreds of volunteers, businesses and community groups who put together this awesome free “show” for your enjoyment. We know that Santa would love to see you all!

If you would like to see the full report prepared for City Council and the information on which they based their decision to go ahead with the route change, you can read it here (scroll to page 18).