On Tuesday afternoon, Rossland City Council met to consider feedback it had received from residents regarding its new Street Light Policy.
Council specifically looked at requests to either keep lights that have been slated for removal or remove lights slated to be kept and upgraded to LED (or in some cases, they had already been upgraded).
While many members of the public provided their feedback through correspondence alone, some also came out to the meeting to share their opinions with council during the public input period.
One man was particularly concerned about the lights that were removed from his walking route. He felt the reduced light made Rossland less walkable and could increase the chances of a wildlife encounter.
“One of the reasons I loved moving to Rossland and chose to live where I did is that it’s such a walkable city. It’s great, you can more or less from anywhere in Rossland just walk into town in 10 minutes. This makes that kind of impossible in the winter when it’s dark,” he said. “It’s kind of dangerous. Obviously, we haven’t had any ice yet, but with the bears around, I’ve come across bears on that street.”
Another Rossland resident wasn’t very happy with the council’s new policy, as she felt it wasn’t putting Rosslanders’ best interests first.
“The town, we have to keep it safe and lit, and when I read the policy it says economic and budget reasons, that’s not about people, that’s not about safety, that’s not about keeping our town lit so new people want to come and live here,” she said. “I feel strongly that you’re going about this in a way that is not… that you don’t have that layer of the social aspect of it and the walkability.”
For the record, the policy statement included in the Street Light Policy reads: “It is the policy of Council to provide streetlight illumination on city streets where necessary and with technology that illuminates only on the street surface to provide way‐finding for nighttime travel, and reduce adverse impacts such as light trespass, obtrusive light, nighttime sky glow, electricity usage and operations/maintenance costs.”
After hearing from members of the public who were present, council went through the correspondence it has received and decided how to respond to each complaint.
In some cases, it was able to make general policy changes.
For instance, council received several complaints about lights on dead-end streets being bagged and passed a motion to establish a specific distance and density limit for dead-end streets that are proposed to have streetlights removed. The idea is that longer dead-end streets with more houses on them will keep their streetlights, while shorter dead-end streets with fewer houses will not.
Council will set the distance and density limit for dead-end streets at a future meeting.
Coun. Aaron Cosbey also put forth a motion to amend the Street Light Policy so that current lightning at Redstone Resort and Red Mountain Resort will not change.
The reason for leaving both subdivisions the way they are is that according to Darrin Albo, manager of public works, the lighting fixtures used for both can’t really be removed.
“Everything is underground, so in order to remove that fixture you have to take out the whole pole and then you’ll have a base that’s left there.… It’s more complex to be doing changes down there,” he said of Redstone.
Council and Albo worried that if the fixtures were simply left in place, City Hall would receive regular complaints about the lights being out, so council approved Cosbey’s motion.
In some cases where residents had asked for lights to be removed, council opted to keep the light, consistent with the current policy but asked Albo that the public works department take a look at the lights to see if the amount of light going onto private property could be reduced.
For instance, a couple of neighbours requested that light 114 — located on the laneway that connects Columbia Avenue and Spokane Street, closer to Columbia — be removed because they say it’s too bright, but council asked Albo to take a look and see if the light pollution could be mitigated by making an adjustment to the light.
“If it’s not lighting up the sidewalk, which I think it’s too far back, it may be able to be removed totally,” Albo added.
Council left it to public works to address.
In other cases, council made an exception to its policy due to extenuating circumstances.
Light 573 is located on Washington Street between Thompson and Union avenues, and though the Street Light Policy says that mid-block lights are to be removed, council decided to make an exception since that stretch is longer than a standard city block and because, as Albo pointed out, Washington Street is the only pedestrian access for people living on or below Union Avenue to get to Thompson Avenue, which is well lit and provides a pedestrian route across Lower Rossland.