Bon Accord bylaw seeks to reduce light pollution

submitted by the Town of Bon Accord

Bon Accord Town Council gave first reading on a comprehensive Light Efficient Community Standards Bylaw on March 3, 2015. This new robust bylaw guides Bon Accord in its goal of reducing light pollution and glare and thus enhancing the well-being of the community through positive environmental actions. Furthermore, the passing of this bylaw enables the Town to apply to become Canada’s first International Dark Sky Community designated by the International Dark Sky Association out of Tucson, Arizona. The detailed bylaw provides the guidance and compliance requirements of Town facilities, business signage and lastly residential properties attaining a reasonable action to curb unshielded lighting onto adjacent property.

An additional benefit of the bylaw will be to assist in achieving increased energy efficiency for businesses, residents and Town operated facilities, a better quality of life, a lighting design that will improve safety through the use of fixtures that produce less glare and a better night time ecosystem.

“The bylaw is based on the Municipal Lighting Ordinance (MLO) template being used by many communities throughout the United States and more recently, Canada,” states Economic Development Manager, Patrick Earl. “Although it seems restrictive, the bylaw provides direction towards responsible and strategic lighting. It assists, more than hindering commercial and residential lighting design with reduced glare and improved clarity for illuminated messaging or safer neighbourhoods at night. The aspect of looking at lighting of commercial signage actually helped the Town receive an Alberta Transportation permit for a LED advertising sign along our highway frontage because the Town considered glare and distraction. It would have been declined without the Town’s own lighting controls.”

Bon Accord’s growth and business attraction strategy has this bylaw as its marketing base. This strategy provides new and existing businesses a niche to market to customers based on environmental stewardship, visitor attraction theming and marketing elements beyond the community. Creativity will be required to deal with business signage illumination during nighttime hours which the end result would be leveraging new technologies and uniqueness to make the Town a destination for visitors which in turn brings new customers to the community.

The bylaw outlines a complete adoption for all buildings and signs by 2023. The Town Office has already completed a lighting retrofit on exterior lighting with other Town buildings being retrofit later this year as well as a complete streetlight retrofit by the end of 2015 as well.

“Bon Accord is looking at making a statement to become an International Dark Sky Community as a tourism destination. It is hoped that the designation and all of the other elements within the strategy provide the means to grow the community responsibly,” says Mayor Randolph Boyd. “It is the foundation of our Building for Tomorrow brand respecting the cultural richness of the night sky, environmental stewardship and educational opportunities in learning about the sky.”

Second reading of the bylaw is slated for March 17, 2015 during the regular meeting of Council beginning at 7 p.m.

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