Blinded in Kamloops by BC Hydro lights – Kamloops This Week
New LED streetlights are bothering some residents. The city said BC Hydro has not responded to concerns; BC Hydro said the city has not yet selected the wattage and colour temperatures it wants installed
A Kamloops city councillor wants council to meet with BC Hydro amidst calls for a temporary moratorium on LED streetlights in residential neighbourhoods.
Coun. Denis Walsh told KTW he will present a notice of motion on Tuesday requesting the mayor and council meet with the utility company’s brass. Walsh said it comes after he was approached by concerned citizens in the Sagebrush neighbourhood.
Sagebrush Neighbourhood Association president Chris Ortner said BC Hydro is replacing high pressure sodium lights, which provide an orange glow, with LEDs. Ortner said he understands it to be a legislative requirement. However, he does not understand why the utility company is installing bulbs so bright in residential neighbourhoods.
“It’s the brightest white light you can get and people are finding it very intrusive,” Ortner said. “It’s getting into their homes.”
Added Walsh: “It’s like having someone’s car lights shining in your window every day.”
Ortner said the lights are being installed not only in the Sagebrush neighbourhood. He said the lights impact people’s sleep cycles and more. Ortner is calling for a moratorium on installation of the bright LEDs and for discussion with BC Hydro about softer bulbs.
Last year, the city expressed concern through the BC Utilities Commission as BC Hydro looked to swap thousands of street lights in Kamloops to LED. The city has 8,400 street lights. About half (4,100) are leased from BC Hydro. The remainder are owned by the city. Street lights on wooden or concrete poles are generally BC Hydro lights, while city lights are typically metal.
The city’s civic operations director, Jen Fretz, said the bright lights noticed lately are not yet part of that program. She said BC Hydro has changed a few dozen burnt out streetlights to LEDs.
“This is kind of like the precursor to the big switch-out,” Fretz said.
Fretz said many of the concerns being heard right now were outlined in the city’s letter to BC Hydro last year.
“It’s unfortunate that BC Hydro hasn’t heard the concerns or listened to the concerns that we raised,” Fretz said. “As to what the city can do, we’re continuing to try and work with BC Hydro and be very transparent with them about the concerns that we saw when we went to LED street lights and the very simple fix, if you will, of installing shields.”
The city replaced about 1,000 of its own street lights with LED lighting in recent years, at which time residents complained about bright directional light shining into homes and gaps in street illumination.
The city mitigated concerns by changing angles of light fixtures and/or adding three-sided shields around the fixture to block light. Fretz said the city raised the idea of shields with BC Hydro, but the utility company was “not open to the suggestion.”
Walsh’s notice of motion criticized BC Hydro for communication as “lacking acceptable standards.”
KTW reached out to BC Hydro for comment and the Crown corporation noted it owns and maintains more than 90,000 streetlights provincewide.
BC Hydro said it first surveyed municipalities regarding colour temperature and wattage in 2017 and has been in regular communication on the project since.</…….