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Street Light Requests: Recommendations by Rossland City Council

a section of Rossland's street light upgrade map.

Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting:  4:00 pm, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Present:  Mayor Kathy Moore, and Councillors Lloyd McLellan, Marten Kruysse, John Greene, Aaron Cosbey, Andy Morel, and Andrew Zwicker.

Public Input Period:

A resident complained about the light outside his place because it "lights up my place like a ball park." Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo explained that the light just needs adjustment, and is on a list to be dealt with, and that tonight's meeting is intended to deal with whether certain lights are removed or kept.

A Thompson Avenue resident says the light he's concerned about has been removed, and leaves the street "pitch black."  He loves the walkability of Rossland, but finds the dark areas discourage walking after nightfall .

A  Princess Avenue resident complained that  too many lights in her neighbourhood have been removed, and it's too dark to feel safe at night. She criticized the policy for failing to consider people over energy-saving considerations.

Another resident of Thompson supported what the earlier  resident said about walking on Thompson Avenue, and emphasized that it's a busy street and a major bear thoroughfare.

Mayor Kathy Moore noted that comments and complaints tend to fall into categories, focusing on wildlife interactions, general safety, potential increase in crime, and so on.

Marten Kruysse recalled when the City changed from white mercury lights to sodium, and how some people complained that the new yellow lights were ugly. He favours having more lights where residents want them  for pedestrian safety and comfort. He spoke about timers being available for street lights, and Albo noted that the LED lights being installed could adapt to timers.

Aaron Cosbey explained that there are other considerations favouring fewer street lights than energy savings and economics.  He pointed out that many residents have lobbied the City to do away with streetlights altogether, for the sake of human health and wildlife (birds especially), as a few other communities have done.  (See this article about how an Alberta town became an official "dark sky" community. It didn't do away with night lighting altogether, but set strict limits on the amount and type of light for street lights and other outdoor  lighting. For a presentation on the benefits of dark skies at night, and the hazards of bright street lights and other night-time lighting, watch this video. )

Cosbey also commented that the City's policy needs to be flexible enough to allow for the length of streets and the number of homes on them.  For the current City policy and a map of street lights with numbers (hover over any given light to find the number), click this link.

Lloyd McLellan favours eliminating lights on dead-end streets, but is open to adjusting the policy if necessary.  He also noted that the City has just as much support for eliminating more lights as for keeping them ― some citizens have suggested not lighting residential neighbourhoods at all, just the downtown area.

Zwicker declared his bias toward fewer lights.

Greene said he likes the light near his house, but is also happy to have it removed as his neighbour would like.  He notes that solar-powered, motion-activated  lights are available.

Cosbey moved that Council make a recommendation ask staff for a recommendation on the length and housing density of dead-end streets to have lights (or not).  Zwicker noted that the recommendation should also be applied to mid-block lights for long blocks, but said he prefers the policy as it is.  Kruysse asked that the slope of a street be included as one of the parameters.   Cosbey asked about the legal ramifications of City policy; Albo explained that if the City has a policy, it is open to liability for incidents that can be attributed to its failure to follow its own policy. The motion to seek a staff recommendation CARRIED with only Greene opposed.

Kruysse said he'd rather have the issue determined by the wishes of neighbours. McLellan said he thought that was ridiculous; that it's important for a policy to consider the length of a street and the number of residents, rather than the wishes of a fluctuating population.

Morel noted that pedestrians walk routes through town, not just in their immediate neighbourhoods.

Cosbey summarized the current City policy and held it up as a "standards-based approach" and said that Council  is adding some flexibility to it.  Moore noted that  Rossland's topography means its streets cannot follow a perfect grid, so the policy needs some flexibility.

Recommendations from Council:

Council went on to discuss specific street lights that had been the subject of input from citizens, and to make recommendations to a regular Council meeting, where decisions will be made (Committee-of-the-Whole meetings just make recommendations).These are presented below in numerical order, not the order in which Council discussed them.

#00108  south Davis Street) was slated for removal, but will be left, at the request of residents.

#00113  on the lane just south of LeRoi Avenue hill between Spokane and Davis); one request to remove;  removal is consistent with policy so it will be removed.

#00114  at curve of lane below Columbia, between Spokane and Davis, had a request to remove; staff will try to shade it to prevent shining in people's windows; Albo says it might be able to be removed.  Light #0040 at Spokane end of lane will likely stay, to light the sidewalk on Spokane.

#00130 and #00132 on Dunn Crescent, near the junction of spur to Centennial Park; a resident wanted to retain both lights to illuminate private property, but as Moore explained,  that's not the City's job. City  policy would remove both lights, and Council recommended removal.

#00225 on Columbia, between Georgia Street and Old Railroad Grade; one request to remove it; this is a mid-block light on a street classified as a "collector," so according to current policy it should stay. Recommendation: it stays.

#00227 is a mid-block light on Georgia, north of Columbia; it will be removed.

#00241 mid-block on Columbia, a "collector street"; the light will stay.

#00258 on Esling Drive, above Thompson Avenue. The recommendation is to leave it bagged for now, and see if #259 (just higher up) can provide adequate lighting, or would if it were moved slightly south.     

#00302 on Queen Street between First Avenue and Columbia will stay, to light the sidewalk.

#00335  on Cook Avenue, between Spokane and Washington Streets, mid-block.  Policy would remove it, and Council decided to stick with the policy and remove it.

#00344  mid-block on Union, just above Queen Street; this light will be removed.

#00347  at Queen Street and Princess Avenue;  all voted in favour of keeping this one.

#00352  mid-block on  Victoria, between Earl and Spokane Streets; Council agreed it should be taken out as per policy.

#00355  south end of Washington Street, at corner of Princess Avenue;  according to policy, this light should stay; one request to remove; the recommendation is to have operations look at it to see if it is shining into te house, and see  if it can be shielded.  Albo explained that the "shield" is  not visible on the outside of the light, as it is installed within the fixture.

#00356  on Phoenix Avenue, between Spokane and Earl Streets;  a  mid-block light, slated for removal;  a new light #00610 will be going in at the intersection of Phoenix and Spokane, so the City will leave #00356 bagged and see how it is when the new light goes in.

#00357 on Spokane Street, south of intersection with Phoenix Avenue is slated for removal, and the recommendation is to remove it.

#00400 on Kootenay Avenue near St. Paul Street, slated for removal;  there were two requests to keep it; the recommendation is to see what happens when the new light goes in and decide its fate afterwards.

#0452 on Redstone Drive:  slated for removal;  one request to keep it;  after an explanation by Albo, Council's recommendation is to leave all Redstone lights as they are, except for changing them to LEDs, because it's more trouble and expense than it's worth to take them out ― because of the underground services and the way the poles are installed; Council also suggested making a policy change to reflect that, for both Redstone and Red  Mountain Base.  But Albo assure Council that new streets at Redstone and Red, as they are developed, will adhere to the City street light policy for the rest of Rossland.

#00573 on Washington Street, where it splits south of Thompson Avenue; it was slated for removal , but there have been three requests to keep this light;  it's a long unlit stretch for pedestrians, and it's a busy bear corridor; the recommendation is to keep it.

#00614 at the corner of Irwin Avenue and Esling Drive:  there were two complaints about the light being too bright, but the recommendation is to make no changes.

The Committee of the Whole meeting adjourned at 5:51, and Council had only a few moments for sandwiches before the start of the Public Hearing and Regular Council meeting; see separate "Council Matters" report .