21.4 C
Niagara Falls
Friday, September 29, 2023
Letter: NOTL in dark ages in limiting nuisance lighting
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

A big shout out to Brian Marshall for “bringing to light” the potentially adverse impact of poorly designed bright exterior LED lights with his June 1 Arch-i-text column, “Of lights and rights and other things.”

With the increase in development in Niagara-on-the-Lake and with a higher density of homes being built, it is imperative to have a nuisance lighting bylaw in place.

While the Town of NOTL has a recently updated noise bylaw for excess noise that is bothersome to residents after 11 p.m., the council has failed to address troublesome lighting by the lengthy delays in bringing forward a nuisance lighting bylaw that remains in draft form.

These delays in implementation were also addressed in a June 8 letter to the editor by Paul Jurbala (“Town hasn’t yet taken action on light pollution issue”). He has had a hand in trying to illuminate lighting concerns, with little success.

It is my understanding that this bylaw will not be moved forward until early 2024, which was earlier attributed to the pandemic, staff changes and absences, and to the election of the new council and bringing members up to speed.

 As a resident of NOTL for the past few years, I cherish the small-town feel, while knowing, however, that development is a legislated part of life in Ontario.

In my opinion, NOTL is in the dark ages when it comes to dealing with nuisance lighting.

We have fallen behind such other Ontario municipalities such as Mississauga, Huntsvillle, Clarington, Orillia, Ajax, Brock, Burlington, Kingston, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Lasalle, Uxbridge, Whitby, Scugog and Toronto which have been progressive in implementing nuisance lighting bylaws.

Huntsville has even recently updated its existing bylaw on light pollution to further protect the dark sky with increased enforcement clarity.

With the proliferation of LED lighting both in new construction and in inexpensive big-box store DIY retrofits, it seems there is an incorrect myth that brighter lights are better – but they can have a negative impact on neighbouring properties.

Overly bright lights can be a major cause of light trespass and light spill. This problem is just going to become increasingly problematic with the development that has been slated for our area.

Like climate change, protecting our dark sky is a real concern, so let’s not leave this matter until it’s too late.

 After the completion of the town’s retrofits of streetlighting to LEDs, it is my understanding the 4,000K lamps were switched to 3,000K due to complaints from residents.

The town indicated it installed dark sky-friendly fixtures with shielding in place to proactively eliminate light spill onto neighbouring properties.

 It would seem town planners are well-versed in good lighting design, so why then, with this in mind, have they not expanded responsible lighting ordinances in the form of an updated lighting bylaw?

Light pollution is considered undesirable and many people feel it reduces the enjoyment of the night sky. Effective lighting systems must be designed to eliminate direct and indirect skyward lighting.

Lighting complaints are frequently due to nuisance glare or excessive brightness with complaints that “light is shining in my window.” Such concerns can be addressed by containing light within the design area and carefully selecting, locating and mounting well-shielded lighting fixtures.

 As residents of NOTL, we should be able to enjoy the evening sky from our front porches or backyards without having to endure glare or intrusive light coming in through our windows as a result of light trespass from poorly designed lighting fixtures.

While the town has had a zoning bylaw in place for several years, it seems to be outdated and to lack the specifics to address the general concerns of nuisance lighting in NOTL.

In short, it is like using a typewriter in the age of high-tech. Let’s leave the typewriters for Tom Hanks and catch up with the other proactive Ontario municipalities that have put the much-needed lighting bylaws in place.

Deb Stephens

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