by Morinville News Staff
Over the past few years, Bon Accord has been embracing stargazing with its move towards preserving dark skies and encouraging tourism to those who want to view the stars. That effort has now paid off.
Bon Accord is the eleventh community in the world to receive International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) status but the first Canadian community on the list.
“We are pleased to honour the efforts of Bon Accord in setting a laudable example for other cities in the Canadian West,” said IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend in a release Aug. 12. “We hope other municipalities throughout Canada will follow the Town’s lead.”
Although Bon Accord is only 40 kilometres from downtown Edmonton, the IDA says the community’s nighttime skies compare to some of the association’s Dark Sky Parks.
“This is truly a new beginning for Bon Accord as a leader in community wellbeing relating to our nighttime environment and as a tourism destination for the Alberta Capital Region and beyond,” said Mayor Randy Boyd in the same release. “Looking at this long term initiative helps provide Bon Accord the ability to develop sustainable, responsible guidelines for growth while maintaining our existing quality of life goals for a community such as ours within a rural area. We hope to be a blueprint for other communities as well, looking for ways to become or maintain their own dark sky.”
Earlier this year, Bon Accord Council passed The Light Efficient Community Standards Bylaw 2015-07. That bylaw used the IDA and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s Model Lighting Ordinance as a guide. The bylaw limited the total amount of light allowable on public and private properties and established a series of lighting zones in Bon Accord where light levels are based on expected ambient light conditions.
“Residents throughout Bon Accord value their ability to view the night sky and acknowledge its importance to our community,” said Bon Accord Economic Development Manager Patrick Earl. “The overall brand message of the community has incorporated an education and environmental message of Bon Accord being a dark sky community and reasons why.”
Bon Accord will once again celebrate its annual Equinox event in September. The community is still planning to build the Bon Accord Observatory Park.