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Bright lights, small town saga continues as trials for street lighting considered

Residents have complained about intense glare of LED lights
BC Hydro could use drones to gauge the trespassing LED lights on properties in the Town of Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photos)

Qualicum Beach’s director of engineering has indicated BC Hydro plans to install lights of varying intensity in different town locations, on a trial basis.

Bob Weir said they have suggested the areas where residents are complaining about the intense glare of the LED lights causing disruptions on their sleep cycle and impacting the quality of their life.

“They will be the one to select where they will do the trials,” Weir told town council at its regular meeting on March 2. “They are looking to use drones to do a before and after photography to track what the light trespassing part on a property looks like, and the light coverage on the street. They also, I believe intend to reduce the wattage and change the colour temperature so they can be both observed during the trial.”

Weir said the agreement has not been finalized but they have been in constant communications with BC Hydro.

“We are just waiting for the final word from them,” said Weir, who in his report to council indicated he is not in favour of lowering the wattage or colour temperature of the town’s streetlights.

Councillors Anne Skipsey and Teunis Westbroek wanted to know how soon this would happen due to the number of resident complaints.

“It hasn’t gone away for them and they’re still concerned and they’re still having issues with the light trespass on their property,” said Skipsey.

In answering questions raised from the open house held on Feb. 14, Weir said “street lighting is for public safety, I will not be recommending the lowering of wattage.”

There were 31 complaints received by the town.

READ MORE: Bright lights, small town: Qualicum Beach council again discusses streetlight issue

Weir pointed out that a study conducted by engineers as requested by council concluded the current lights do not provide proper roadway lighting as per industry standards and lowering the wattage will only make this condition worse. The recommendation was to leave the lights as is.

“If council so direct that wattage or colour temperature be changed, and I fully expect that such direction will come, it must be acknowledged that this may attract and increase the town’s liability exposure,” said Weir. “As previously stated to council, the lighting on arterials, major collectors and points of conflict should not be reduced.”

Weir indicated the new lights have also received positive reactions from the community as they feel safer walking or driving. He said this has been largely overlooked.

“Any changes directed by council should consider neighbourhood consensus and not just individual complaints,” Weir said.

Council received Weir’s report for information and no action was taken.

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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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