12/11/2013 06:57 EST | Updated 12/11/2013 07:00 EST

Vancouver Santa Banned From Wearing Suit On Buses

You've heard of the Grinch. That miserable, fun-hating character that didn't want anyone to enjoy Christmas? Well, apparently, he's alive and well and making the rules at Coast Mountain bus company in Vancouver.

For the past 16 years, bus driver Kirk Rockwell has marked the festive season by donning Santa's regulation white beard and red suit, and cheered up passengers all along his East Van route.

He has never been confronted, attacked or abused while dressed as our favourite resident of the North Pole, in fact, he's simply brought a smile to the faces of the good citizens of Vancouver.

Until now. Because this year, his bosses have refused to give him the permit he needs to wear something other than his driver's uniform.

“I have fun doing it and now I am being told I can’t,” Rockwell told Global News. “That means I can’t make people happy.”

In fact, he told the news organization, he plans to carry on being a bus-driving Santa, regardless of the rules.

The union asked Coast Mountain to reconsider, and were told Rockwell was welcome to wear a festive tie or a Santa hat.

"They are right, they have a uniform policy but this isn't something upsetting to anybody," Local 111 union president Nathan Woods told The Vancouver Sun. "What a better picture than to see Santa driving up in your bus?"

But Coast Mountain spokesperson Derek Zabel defended the decision, telling Metro that though no one had ever complained about Rockwell's Santa, there were safety and professional reasons that must be upheld across the board, in order to be fair.

“Our operators are expected to be adhering to a policy,” he said. “I’ve heard some people call us Grinches and that sort of thing, but we do a lot during the festive season to celebrate.”

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