BC Hydro has informed the Town of Qualicum Beach it will not take part in a pilot project designed to address complaints about street lighting in the community.
The town had requested BC Hydro address light trespass complaints received from residents in certain locations in the community. A LED pilot installation project was planned in March but following an assessment, BC Hydro decided not to proceed.
Town engineer Bob Weir reported BC Hydro’s decision to council at its regular meeting on April 6. He said Hydro found Qualicum Beach not ideal for the project because technical staff are based in Vancouver.
Weir said he is disappointed as the trial he proposed would have addressed many of the complaints.
“The elephant in the room certainly is that Qualicum Beach is by far the outlier in the province when it comes to the volume of complaints,” said Weir. “We are an order of magnitude out of step with the rest of the province, however we are not out of step with our choices of specification. Like most small communities, we opted for the equivalent wattages identified by BC Hydro.”
Weir noted Sidney, Nanaimo and Kamloops have opted to increase the wattage of their street lights for safety reasons, similar to that of Qualicum Beach. He reiterated his position that street lights are for road safety and advised against any downgrading of lighting on the town’s arterials and collectors.
He also informed council the town does not have funds set aside to change any of the lights.
Coun. Scott Harrison indicated there are homes legitimately dealing with the issue of light trespass, which the illumination engineers highlighted in their review.
Councillors Ann Skipsey and Teunis Westbroek suggested to focus on both the Dorsett Road and Burnham Road areas, as the bulk of the complaints came from there. Westbroek made a motion for council direct staff to work with BC Hydro to address the lighting issues identified at Dorset Road and Burnham Road by adjusting the lights at the two identified locations.
Weir suggested they change the colour temperature rather than lowering the wattage. But Westbroek and Skipsey preferred to do both.
“Changing colour temperature will not significantly impact safety,” Weir explained. “Changing wattage will because it will significantly increase the dark areas of the street because we will have less light through.”
Westbroek said the area does not generate a high volume of traffic.
“It’s not like any other roads where people passing through,” said Westbroek. “Very few cars travel that area but it’s a real nuisance for people who live there to have the intrusion of light into their family room, living room, bedrooms. It’s not right. We have to fix this. I am happy to support both.”
Coun. Robert Filmer suggested that to get things rolling, council should start with Weir’s recommendation to change the colour temperature of the lights.
“If staff feels comfortable that one will make a change, let’s try that,” said Filmer. “If it doesn’t, it’s a different conversation. But I think we should stick with one for now.”
Council eventually agreed and passed Westbroek’s motion unanimously.