City employees oppose Hollingsworth’s proposal to keep us in the dark

For the past three years, the city of Sault Ste. Mary received only three complaints of trespassing

Light pollution regulation suggested by Ward 1 Couns. Sandra Hollingsworth and Paul Christian may work in Huntsville but not in Sault Ste. Mary, city council will be reporting Tuesday.

“It is important to note that Huntsville is a remote area because it is more of an outdoor leisure/tourist destination where the dark and preserved atmosphere is a relief,” says Jonathan Carcal of the city’s planning team.

“Such an approach would not be feasible for Sault Ste Marie,” Kirkal says in a report prepared for Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“Locally, the housing impact issue is not as prevalent as evidenced by the low number of light-related complaints received by employees,” Crickall added.

Hollingsworth and Christian convinced their boardmates in April to look at an internal dark-sky law to control the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light that affects humans, wildlife or the climate.

The Caracal Report describes four types of light pollution:

  • Glare: Excessive brightness that causes visual discomfort
  • Sky Glow: The shining of the night sky over populated areas
  • Light Trespass: Light falls in unintended or desired places
  • Clutter: Bright, Confusing, Excessive Light Sources

“Light pollution can lead to annoying problems among landlords due to light infringement,” he said.

“It can also cause impacts on the health and safety of humans, wildlife and energy conservation. Excessive light pollution washes out the night sky and hampers astronomical research.”

“The rapid pace of urbanization and the trend towards lighting more spaces with brighter lights has spurred the call for a structured approach to outdoor artificial lighting.”

Huntsville was the only Ontario municipality Kirkal could find that sought to regulate environmental light pollution as well as simple light encroachment.

“This municipality requires that lighting fixtures be ‘cut out entirely by design’ to ensure that light is emitted straight down, with no light leakage,” he said.

For the past three years, the city of Sault Ste. Mary received three complaints of trespassing.

“One complaint relates to exterior lighting of a commercial property shining on an adjacent residential property. The commercial property was subject to a site plan control agreement that included a trespassing clause. This allowed the City to enforce and correct the problem,” he said.

“The second complaint was filed against an apartment building that was under an older SPC [site plan control] unconditional agreement; So the city couldn’t intervene.”

“The third and final complaint was about an outside light between two separate residences. The city could not intervene.”

“In the absence of a lightly relevant provision in the Property Standards Bylaw, or SPC,” city law enforcement officers are trying to resolve vexing issues by seeking a solution among the affected parties, Crickall said.

Moreover, it is a matter of a purely civil character.”

Although it does not support the bylaws on light pollution, Caracal said city employees will add light trespassing clauses to the new and revised site plan control agreements.

“Planning staff will add draft additional policies that will support a broader application of light reduction methods taking into account the many effects that excessive lighting has on the natural environment, energy conservation and personal enjoyment of their property.”

“Such policies will better ensure that development, growth, and reorganization proposals reflect these values.”

“It is recognized that development trends related to filling and volumization combined with the increased accessibility of new lighting technology that are becoming brighter and more visually intrusive could lead to a greater prevalence of light-related complaints in the future. Staff will monitor these complaints and be prepared to respond accordingly.”

City Council will be broadcast live today Starting at 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

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