The message “Merry Christmas” will stay on buses in Saskatoon. That was the decision by city council on Monday.

Several councillors say the public was vocal on the issue.

“The majority of residents who contacted me over the last few days are very much in favor of keeping that message,” said Councillor Mairin Loewen.

Councillor Darren Hill said he also received calls.

“I’ve heard loud and clear from the citizens of Saskatoon that they are very supportive of Merry Christmas remaining on the bus,” Hill told reporters.

The issue came up last week, after Saskatoon resident Ashu Solo complained that the phrase “Merry Christmas” promotes Christianity. It’s one of several messages being displayed on the digital billboard of city transit buses through the Christmas season.

Solo had threatened to complain to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission unless the city dropped the phrase.

While councillors voted to keep the message, they also referred the topic to the city’s Culture and Diversity and Race Relations committee, to see if they need to come up with a more inclusive policy. One option they discussed was including messages from other faiths during special times, such as Hanukkah, or Eid.

Hill was asked by reporters how far the policy might go – for example, a voodoo message. He responded it would have to be looked at case by case.

“I’m not going to stand here and say we’ll have a voodoo message on a city bus…I don’t even know what it means,” Hill said.

After the meeting, Solo told CTV he plans to go ahead with his complaint to the Human Rights Commission. He doesn’t think including messages from other faiths will work, because there are many different cultural groups in Saskatoon with different beliefs – and it would be hard to choose which messages would go on buses.