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Lights too bright for some in Cumberland

BC Hydro is in the midst of a program to replace old streetlighting
Cumberland is in the middle of a BC Hydro program to replace old streetlights. Record file photo

Village staff shed some light on BC Hydro’s plan to replace old streetlights on its poles in Cumberland.

The utility is undergoing a program in communities throughout the province and informed the village last fall of its intent to retrofit the old poles.

At the time, council told BC Hydro it preferred 3000-Kelvin LED lights for the entire community, which are in compliance with “dark sky” standards.

Village manager of operations Rob Crisfeld updated council on the program at the Nov. 8 meeting. The program affects the lighting on BC Hydro’s older power poles. The village itself, he added, owns the lighting in new subdivisions.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland opts for less glare from streetlights

One issue for some people with the new lights results from the direction of the lighting, with some residents complaining about the brightness. Coun. Sean Sullivan had spoken before about this problem at council and brought up the matter again at the latest meeting, citing the light on his street.

“The light is almost just staring right at you,” he said. “It lights up almost the entire street.”

Crisfeld noted in this case the light is a 75W one that will be replaced by a 39W one, which should reduce the brightness. The 39W lights are to be used in residential areas, he said, while the 75W ones are to be used on fixtures in specific areas such as collector or arterial routes.

The staff report also notes many light spillage issues can be reduced adjusting the angles of the lighting.

Another issue surrounds the colour of the lighting. In 2020, council had requested BC Hydro to use yellow, green or amber lights. The staff report says the selection is based on the Kelvin rating for light, with the 3000k LED light coming closest to the current amber-coloured, high-pressure sodium lights.

At the meeting last year, Crisfeld told council the program to replace the old lighting was being prompted by concerns of poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in older lighting, along with other issues. These included energy efficiency, lighting quality and the ease of replacing fixtures. BC Hydro says on its website that the new LED lights should help improve safety at night, reduce light pollution, last longer and need less maintenance.

Crisfeld noted village staff will continue to work with BC Hydro and relay any complaints from the public about the new lighting. The program is also expected to result in a temporary increase in the rates for municipalities, but that this should return to normal after the program has been implemented.

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