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Streetlight FAQ

  1. What is The City's vision for streetlighting in Calgary?
  2. What are the standards for streetlighting in Calgary?
  3. When do the streetlights in Calgary turn on and off?
  4. Why did The City retrofit residential streetlights with new lower wattage, flat lens fixtures?
  5. Do lower lighting levels increase crime rates and increase the need for lighting on private property?
  6. The new lower wattage residential streetlights do not seem to mix well with bright white headlights. Is it possible that pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Calgary are related to lower lighting levels from EnviroSmart streetlights?
  7. Is The City investigating or implementing any new technologies in the streetlight system?

Common City of Calgary resident FAQ

  1. What should I do if a tree is blocking my streetlight?
  2. I live in a new housing development and there are no streetlights on my street yet. When will these be installed?
  3. Can The City light neighbourhood playground areas to prevent vandalism/rowdy behaviour by loiterers?
  4. Can I get a light installed in the back lane behind my house? Does The City maintain lights in back alleys?
  5. Does The City install streetlights on utility poles?
  6. The neighbourhood adjacent to mine has decorative streetlights. Why does my neighbourhood not have the same ornamental lighting?
  7. How can property owners initiate a local improvement to change/upgrade lighting on their street?
  8. What types of lamps does The City currently use?
  9. Has The City conducted an energy audit of the streetlight system? What advice would The City give to other municipalities interested in conducting their own energy audit?

Environmental FAQ

  1. What is light pollution?
  2. What does The City do with all the old streetlight fixtures that are removed during maintenance?

311 FAQ

  1. What is the fastest process to have a streetlight repaired?
  2. What types of streetlight problems do citizens report to The City of Calgary?
  3. What sort of information needs to be available to make a 311 service request?
  4. Does The City perform streetlight maintenance for outdoor malls in the downtown core?
  5. Does The City of Calgary maintain streetlights on Deerfoot Trail?
  6. Does The City have any responsibilities for streetlight maintenance at private parking lots, condos, and seniors' complexes?
  7. Why is the streetlight still not working after I have already reported the problem?
  8. How can I get an update on the status of a problem that I have reported to The City?
  9. How can I submit my streetlighting comments and concerns to The City of Calgary?

 

1. What is The City's vision for streetlighting in Calgary?

Our vision is to provide appropriate lighting levels for safe pedestrian and vehicular movements at a reasonable cost.

2. What are the standards for streetlighting in Calgary?

All roadway lighting system designs in Calgary are based on IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) guidelines for roadway lighting. These guidelines establish appropriate lighting levels, visibility levels and uniformity of lighting levels for a given class and operational characteristics of a roadway (e.g., traffic volume, speed and potential for pedestrian conflicts). For more detailed information, refer to the IESNA website at www.iesna.org.

Additionally, The City has a policy to minimize light pollution and energy consumption through the use of lower wattage flat lens fixtures which focus lighting on the street level, and to recycle all lighting materials.

3. When do the streetlights in Calgary turn on and off?

The City's streetlight circuits are controlled by approximately 7,000 photoelectric sensors that sense the amount of ambient light. Typically, each sensor controls 8-12 lights. In general, these sensors turn streetlights on in a dusk-to-dawn operation. The exact time that these occur is dependent upon the location and placement of a sensor.

4. Why did The City retrofit residential streetlights with new lower wattage, flat lens fixtures?

The streetlight system is Calgary's single largest electricity consumer. When energy prices reached an all-time high in January 2001, The City needed to find a way to reduce the cost of operating the streetlight system. Lower wattage fixtures were installed to consume less electricity and help keep operating costs down while still meeting IESNA guidelines for pedestrian and vehicular safety.

Before the launch of the EnviroSmart Streetlight Retrofit in 2002, satellite images showed that Calgary lost up to ten times the amount of light energy into space compared to other cities such as Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland. An estimated one-third of the light from the old-style streetlights ended up lighting up the sky.

In order for a streetlight to be included in the city-wide EnviroSmart retrofit, the location had to meet IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) guidelines for appropriate municipal lighting levels, visibility levels, and uniformity ratios. These standards resulted in the exclusion of 21,000 residential streetlights from the project.

5. Do lower lighting levels increase crime rates and increase the need for lighting on private property?

The Calgary Police Service carried out a research review of other jurisdictions and also a crime statistics analysis in Calgary before and after the first stage of the retrofit project. The studies showed that the vast majority of communities did not experience an increase in reported offences after the reduction in lighting levels.

The primary purpose of streetlighting is to provide safe levels of lighting for roadways. It is more appropriate for property owners to ensure adequate lighting and protection of private property through, for example, the use of timers and motion sensor lights.

6. The new lower wattage residential streetlights do not seem to mix well with bright white headlights. Is it possible that pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Calgary are related to lower lighting levels from EnviroSmart streetlights?

Lighting levels from EnviroSmart streetlights fall within Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) guidelines for municipal lighting. Research has indicated that there is no evidence in support of increased lighting levels which would reduce headlight glare. Further, The City is not aware of any issues identified in other municipalities. 

7. Is The City investigating or implementing any new technologies in the Streetlight system?

The City is interested in piloting technologies that will have an economic and environmental benefit.  Currently, the City is investigating light dimming, LED streetlights and energy saving bulbs and ballasts.

Common City of Calgary resident FAQ

8. What should I do if a tree is blocking my streetlight?

If trees are blocking streetlights, no amount of wattage will allow for lighting to penetrate down to the roadway. Trees situated on City property that have canopies in contact with streetlights or cause a reduction in lighting levels may need to be pruned. Residents can call 311 and an assessment will be conducted.

9. I live in a new housing development and there are no streetlights on my street yet. When will these be installed?

A developer, under a development agreement with The City, is responsible for building the road infrastructure (including streetlights) in a new residential subdivision. Typically, the developer hires ENMAX to design and install the streetlight system. The Streetlighting Division is responsible for reviewing design and construction to ensure that they comply with The City's design guidelines and construction standards. Installation of the streetlights in a new subdivision usually occurs after the necessary infrastructure and underground utilities are in place. Due to the need to sequence the construction - which is often dependent on weather conditions - it is possible for a subdivision to have no streetlights for a period of time after home owners have occupied their property.

10. Can The City light neighbourhood playground areas to prevent vandalism/rowdy behaviour by loiterers?

The City's practice has been not to light local neighbourhood parks because this tends to promote and legitimize loitering after dark. Neighbourhood parks include "Tot lots" and fall under the jurisdiction of City Parks.

A Calgary Police Service follow-up study of the retrofit project in 2004 did not reveal statistical evidence which would support increased criminal activities resulting from decreased lighting levels. A February 2007 Calgary Police Service report on lighting and crime noted: "Relevant literature also suggests that while improvements to streetlighting have been shown to be a popular crime prevention measure, and to reduce the fear of crime, they have not typically been proven to reduce crime."

11. Can I get a light installed in the back lane behind my house? Does The City maintain lights in back alleys?

The mandate of the Streetlighting Division is to provide lighting for The City's public roadways and registered walkways. This does not include lighting of public lanes or private roads and we do not have a capital budget to fund such a program.

However, for a monthly rental fee, residents can have ENMAX install and maintain a high pressure sodium luminaire (lamp) under ENMAX's Bright Night's program as long as there is an existing power pole in their back lane. Maintenance and light replacement will be added to the monthly fee. Up to six neighbours can join together to split the monthly rental cost and determine where to install the light. ENMAX will evaluate the designated site for optimum light coverage and electrical safety. Homeowners who wish to participate in this program can contact ENMAX Power Services and follow the "Light Your Alley" link.

Any request for lighting of a regional pathway should be addressed to Parks by contacting 311.

12. Does The City install streetlights on utility poles?

As a rule, The City does not install lights on utility poles. These poles are owned by utility service providers and are not under The City's care and control. Utility poles with attached streetlights are generally located in industrial areas and older areas of Calgary. When development permits come in for a new industrial site, The City installs stand alone streetlights whenever possible and lights on the utility poles only when stand alone lights cannot be accommodated.

13. The neighbourhood adjacent to mine has decorative streetlights. Why does my neighbourhood not have the same ornamental lighting?

When a new neighbourhood is built, roadway infrastructure, including streetlights, is paid for and installed by the developer. The developer is free to choose from a catalogue of streetlights approved and stocked by The City. These fixtures and poles are either standard galvanized steel poles or decorative coloured poles with ornamental fixtures. For aesthetic reasons, some developers choose ornamental fixtures instead of standard style lights. Developers are also responsible for paying the incremental costs for energy and maintenance of decorative poles and luminaires. In turn, the extra costs are passed onto home buyers.

If property owners wish to have their streetlighting replaced with decorative streetlights, this can be done through a local improvement levy.

14. How can property owners initiate a local improvement to change/upgrade lighting on their street?

An individual property owner can initiate a local improvement by contacting 311 and describing the nature and location of the desired local improvement.

The City checks for existing similar local improvement work in the area, obtains the necessary utility clearances (e.g. Water Services clearance for lane paving), and provides the initiating property owner with a map and/or list of affected property addresses, the current uniform tax rate, if applicable, and a petition form. The initiating individual gathers signatures from the affected property owners and returns the petition to Roads for validation.

Under Section 392 of the Municipal Government Act, a local improvement petition is considered valid if "(a) it is signed by two-thirds (2/3) of the owners who would be liable to pay the local improvement tax, and (b) the owners who sign the petition represent at least half (1/2) the assessed value of the parcels of land in respect of which the tax will be imposed."

Roads will notify affected property owners in writing as to the validity of the petition. If City Council approves the local improvement project, work can proceed. The property owners' portion of the cost of the project is levied proportionately to each property owner over a 15-year period in the form of an annual local improvement tax.

For more information on this program, refer to the Local Improvements page

15. What types of lamps does The City currently use?

Out of approximately 84,000 streetlights within Calgary, about 81,000 are high pressure sodium lamps. The rest are a mixture of mercury vapour, metal halide and fluorescent, depending on the area.

16. Has The City conducted an energy audit of the streetlight system? What advice would The City give to other municipalities interested in conducting their own energy audit?

An engineering consulting firm helped The City with the initial analysis of the existing streetlight system and also with a cost benefit/analysis and a detailed design of the retrofit program. For municipalities wishing to do so, a good starting point might be to contact their streetlight or energy provider and see if they will conduct an energy audit free-of-charge. Beyond that, an outside consultant could be retained to provide this service.

Environmental FAQ

17. What is light pollution?

Light pollution is wasted light. It can be recognized as sky glow (the glow above cities at night), light trespass (unwanted light going onto private properties) and glare (harsh, bright light shining into the eyes).

18. What does The City do with all the old streetlight fixtures that are removed during maintenance?

The fixtures are disassembled and the components – glass, steel, aluminum – are recycled. Some parts are even used for crafts. The old glass refractors have been used as pots and the ceramic arc tubes for sharpening knifes.

311 FAQ

19. What is the fastest process to have a streetlight repaired?

The fastest process to have a streetlight repaired is to call 311.

When a streetlight concern is reported, a work order is generated and a crew from the maintenance contractor, ENMAX, is dispatched to either fix the problem or refer it to a specialized crew if required. The City has a 48-hour service level agreement with ENMAX, which requires the company to investigate a problem within 48 hours of receiving a service request. Please note that, depending on the nature of the problem(s), it may not be possible to resolve/repair all the problem(s) within that time frame.

If the request is submitted through other channels, a Service Request (SR) will be initiated by The City Streetlighting group once the request is received. A work order will then be initiated by 311.

20. What types of streetlight problems do citizens report to The City of Calgary?

Citizens have informed The City about a streetlight problem when:

  • One or more lights are out on a residential or major road
  • A lamp or fixture is damaged
  • One or more lights are flickering
  • A lens cover is open
  • A light is on in the daytime

21. What sort of information needs to be available to make a 311 service request?

The address/location of the problem as well as a description of the problem needs to be ready for a 311 customer service representative.

22. Does The City perform streetlight maintenance for outdoor malls in the downtown core?

Streetlight maintenance for the following special roads is carried out under a mall maintenance bylaw agreement with the Calgary Downtown Association:

  • Eau Claire (Barclay Parade S.W. from 2nd Street S.W. to 2nd Ave. S.W.)
  • Stephen Avenue Mall (8th Avenue from Macleod Trail S.E. to 3rd Street S.W.)

Note: Barclay Mall is on private property. As such, The City does not repair lights on Barclay Parade north of 2nd Avenue S.W. through Eau Claire to 2nd Street S.W.

23. Does The City of Calgary maintain streetlights on Deerfoot Trail?

No. Deerfoot Trail is a Provincial highway. Alberta Transportation is responsible for road and streetlight maintenance on Deerfoot Trail.

24. Does The City have any responsibilities for streetlight maintenance at private parking lots, condos, and seniors' complexes?

No. Streetlight maintenance for these and other private developments is the responsibility of the property owner.

25. Why is the streetlight still not working after I have already reported the problem?

The City of Calgary deals with customer service requests as quickly as possible. The City has a service level agreement with ENMAX, which requires ENMAX to investigate a problem within 48 hours of receiving a service request. When the problem is more serious, such as short circuits, underground span wire faults, relay breakdowns, etc., it may take longer to resolve. If an ENMAX maintenance crew cannot resolve the light repair on the first visit, a specialized crew will be dispatched to complete the repair or install a temporary overhead wire to restore lighting.

26. How can I get an update on the status of a problem that I have reported to The City?

All inquiries about the status of a reported problem can be directed to 311. When you phone please have the service request number ready. This number was provided during the initial request and has been assigned to the specific request.

27. How can I submit my streetlighting comments and concerns to The City of Calgary?

You can submit your comments by calling 311.