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Brian's Beat: Dark skies, bright skies

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Ward 11 Official Website

A couple of things: Before I joined City Council in 2007 I was a lighting designer. I worked in professional theatre from one end of the country to the other for close to 20 years. So, as far as titles go; The Prince of Darkness for me has always been and will always be a great Toronto-based lighting designer, Steven Hawkins – Steve rest easy – the crown remains securely yours! I did briefly toy with adopting the moniker The Prince of Insufficient Light… but that too has been claimed.

Joking aside, these misnomers imply a considerable misunderstanding of my recent Bright Skies Notice of Motion. Let me be clear, I have zero interest in jeopardizing public safety, nor in anyway diminishing our city by making it unsafe. Quite the opposite, in fact, the Calgary I strive to serve and to build is vibrant, resilient, innovative and safe!

So, let's start with what the notice of motion isn't. It isn't about having less light on our streets and pathways. It isn't about making our city darker. And, it isn't about forcing businesses and buildings to eliminate the lighting they use to protect their property.

What it is about is putting light where we need it and not putting light where we don't need it. It is about being more responsible with light, making a better, safer city, while being more cost effective and more considerate to others around us. It is about eliminating wasted light.

The City has several guidelines and policies that pertain to appropriately installing and controlling lighting. In examining how we can embed policy around light pollution, City Administration has proposed to amend a relevant section of the Municipal Development Plan (MDP). The MDP is our legislated policy that guides city development looking towards a 60-year horizon. The proposed amendment supports existing lighting guidelines such as the Bird Friendly Lighting Standards and the Downtown Lighting Guidelines.

Here is the text of the proposed amendment:

"The design of buildings, open spaces, pathways and parking areas should adhere to the principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) while ensuring light spill into adjacent property or the surrounding environment is minimized. A reduction in light spill should be achieved by minimizing the intensity of light sources and directing light only to where it is needed."

So, there it is, integral to the policy, in the very first sentence, that public safety is paramount.

I hope this helps to shed some, appropriately controlled, directional light on the matter.


This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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