June 24th, 2024

Light nuisance bylaw would be a win for all

By Letter to the Editor on June 12, 2021.

Spring and summer are seasons we most associate with birds, bees and the beauty of nature. The problem is we’re seeing far fewer of these and other creatures with each passing year. Driving species to decline or extinction is alarming not only because the beauty of nature is vanishing before our eyes but our very survival is threatened given that without pollinators food security is at risk.
Small actions to protect nature can make a huge difference and one of the best actions our city can take is to install a ‘light nuisance’ bylaw.
Light pollution, along with pesticides and herbicides, is a major driver of pollinator decline (including birds and other creatures).
In an article published by ‘The Land Between’ it states “an estimated 80 per cent of the Earth’s population is affected by light pollution … most of us are lucky enough to be able to go inside, close the blinds, and turn off the lights when it’s time to sleep. The plants and animals living outside however do not have this luxury. Instead, they are forced to live in a state of never-ending daylight…”
The importance of darkness cannot be overstated. Every living thing from bees to people need darkness – for only in darkness are beneficial hormones for health and wellbeing produced; is safety provided for creatures; predation mitigated and reproduction ensured.
A light nuisance bylaw would go a long way towards restoring nature as no other. It would give citizens the means to play a vital role in protecting nature.
It would also grant them the right to the enjoyment of their personal spaces (i.e. stopping light from streaming into the interior of their homes). Intrusive light trespassing on to personal property could finally be addressed much like an existing bylaw for loud music or barking dogs.
Recall the days when dogs ran at large – no licence was required – nothing was in place to deter an owner from stopping their pet barking day and night. It’s only by token of bylaws does society benefit.
Few inventions have altered and transformed society more than man-made light. While we know the benefits; we’re aware more than ever of the harm uncontrolled lights bring.
The good news is that light pollution is about the easiest form of pollution to control.
All that’s required is to place a shield over the light so the light is directed to shine down to where it’s needed (task lighting) rather than in all directions.
Better yet is to use properly angled motion sensors. Please take a moment and call the City to advocate for a ‘light nuisance’ bylaw – it would be a win-win for citizens and for nature.
Rena Woss

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Makes sense and would benefit all of us …but is this Council progressive enough to take such action? I hope so! If not, let’s make sure that those who run for the upcoming election are. Time we got people who are enlightened on environmental matters.


A few years back when the City installed the LED streetlights half my back yard was lit up. I called the City and they put a very small shield over the streetlight and believe it or not, it made a difference. But that’s the City. I can’t imagine dealing with a neighbor who turns on their lights and refuses to turn them off; I like my peace and quiet. I can see that the only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is through a bylaw as you suggest. Let’s hope Council listens up and installs one.


try a sling shot. it is very effective at putting lights out

Last edited 3 years ago by phlushie

It would be better if they removed it. You are entitled to darkness within the confines of your own home, and they have no right to pollute your property under the dubious pretext of improving road safety or reducing crime.


Street lighting should only be deployed sparingly, on a needs must basis, where needed, when needed, in the right amounts, and using appropriate smart lighting technology.

So what does this mean? Luminaires should be fully recessed so that they cannot ge seen from a distance. In quiet residential and suburban areas, they should be motion operated and subject to an 11p.m. till dawn curfew. Their colour temperature should not exceed 1,750K, and their luminosity should not exceed 400 lumens. In areas with a low risk of vandalism, bollard lighting will be more appropriate.

Street lighting in rural areas should be banned. Their are alternative methods of making roads safer without naïve recourse to street lighting.

Local authorities should not authorise the frivolous abuse of lighting, such as illuminated billboards, public buildings, monuments, urban regeneration follies, illuminated art festivals, skybeams and lasers.

These recommendations should not be negotiable. It should now be recognised by those involved in local government that lighting abuse is harmful both to human health and the environment. This is now a well established fact, and a simple Google search will reveal all.