By Suzanne Oel, Reeve of Foothills County
At our Council Meeting on January 8, our council and administration had a discussion on how to deal with a growing issue of complaints about Light Trespass that is done with the intent to harass neighbours or consequently disturbs quality of life. While we have a Dark Sky Bylaw in place and request compliant, downward- shining lighting on all new builds, we need a means to follow through with complaints.
Our Dark Sky Initiative Committee has made a lot of effort to share information and the reasons to consider choosing thoughtful lighting, by explaining the effects of light pollution on our observatories, health, creatures and country living. In no way are we diminishing a resident’s right to light. Just use what is needed on the property and keep the light from trespassing, extreme brightness and offending neighbours.
When complaints are received, we take action with Bylaw Officers contacting residents to advise of the concerns. However, we are looking for a more effective response, especially to address the harassment forms and bright lights showing up in the telescopes in the areas around the observatories. Some options include adding to our Dark Sky Bylaw or Land Use Bylaw or Community Standards Bylaw. As many of our councillors have received complaints, our council conversation resulted in a request that a meeting with our solicitor be arranged to obtain a legal opinion on issues surrounding light trespass and associated enforcement.
For more info on this subject, please visit: www.darksky.org/our-work/lighting/lighting-for-citizens/lighting-basics/ and www.darksky.org/light-pollution/lighting-crime-and-safety/