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Qualicum Beach switches off complaints on street light issue

Council gives staff direction on how to deal with complaints
Qualicum Beach no longer taking in complaints on glaring street lights. (Contributed photo)

The Town of Qualicum Beach will no longer accept complaints about bright BC Hydro-leased streetlights.

Last year, the town had BC Hydro replace 124 streetlights with reduced wattage and colour temperatures to address the concerns raised by residents who were given two opportunities to file their complaints and requests. The deadline for the final intake was Aug. 31, 2003 but from Sept. 1, 2023 to May 1, 2024, the town continued to receive correspondence from the public.

The town's capital projects manager, Oliver Watson, informed council they have received a total of 35 letters. Some of them thanked the town for making the changes to the lights, some are requests for new lights to be installed at dimly lit areas, and others request streetlights be toned down at areas in Hall Road, Dogwood Road at Tyee Crescent, Fern Road East and Valdez Avenue.

Twenty five of the letters, however, are complaints from residents in the areas where bright streetlights have already been replaced, but they are still not satisfied with the changes.

Town staff asked council how they would want them to deal with the latest and continuing public complaints.

Watson informed council if they were to explore further options they would need to hire a third-party consultant to assess each of the locations and come up with recommendations that would be submitted for BC Hydro to take action.

Last year, the town allocated $100,000 in the budget to address BC Hydro streetlight issues but spent only close to $70,000 and carried over the balance in the 2024 budget. To request BC Hydro to replace more lights with lower wattage and temperature, it would  cost $1,750 per light this time which is going to be more than the reduced amount the town paid last year. To readjust an existing streetlight, BC Hydro charges an additional $1,465 which the town will have to shoulder at the taxpayers' expense.

Mayor Teunis Westbroek made a motion to hire a third party illumination expert. Coun. Anne Skipsey suggested the town first acquire a quote for a third party engineer before employing one. This was supported by council with Coun. Scott Harrison opposed.

Westbroek also made a motion directing staff to advise the public the town has concluded the change out of BC Hydro-leased streetlights with lower wattage and colour temperature. He pointed out the deadline of Aug. 31, 2023 council set last year for the final intake of complaints and requests have already passed and no further intake would be accepted. He said they need to put a closure on this.

Skipsey suggested looking at an option that would allow a resident to pay to have the lights changed if they have the consent from their neighbours.

Westbroek and Harrison agreed it is a complex undertaking and will require some staff time. CAO Lou Varela also pointed out it's unclear whether BC Hydro would participate in this kind of approach and change out lights on a by-request basis.

Council unanimously endorsed Westbroek's second motion as well as the recommendation to direct staff to respond to future resident requests for additional BC Hydro streetlights to be installed in areas that do not have them. 




Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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