In a bid to combat the annually increasing light pollution, the City of Guelph is contemplating the introduction of a dark sky bylaw. Light pollution, resulting from excessive or inappropriate outdoor artificial lighting, has been escalating at a rate of 6 to 10 percent per annum in Canada. This form of pollution disrupts natural light cycles and has adverse impacts on both human health and wildlife, including birds, insects, bats, plants, and endangered species. Moreover, it hampers the ability to observe astronomical events.
Community Engagement to Inform Decision
Doug Godfrey, the General Manager of Operations for Guelph, underscored the critical role community engagement will play in determining the necessity of such a bylaw. The city council's decision will be informed by public workshops and an online survey. Other cities such as Mississauga, London, and Leamington have already enforced similar bylaws, while Waterloo has a property standards bylaw addressing light trespass.
Potential Recommendations and Stakeholder Consultations
Recommendations might encompass regulations on outdoor lighting, including specifications on the direction and intensity of lights. Initial feedback from the workshops indicated a community bias towards regulations that would fight light pollution and safeguard the night sky for future generations. The city plans to conduct further consultations with stakeholders like the Guelph Police and present a report to the council in 2024.
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Varied Resident Opinions on Proposed Bylaw
Resident opinions on the proposed bylaw are mixed, with some advocating for a reduction in street lighting and unused building lights as a cost-saving measure and a means to conserve the night sky. Conversely, others express skepticism about the prioritization of this issue over the provision of other city services.