Wednesday, February 8, 2023
February 8, 2023

Park-area residents blinded by new light glare

A streetlight bulb replacement program has let more light shine on Salt Spring roads in recent weeks, but the results have been overwhelming for residents of Vesuvius Bay Road who live across from the entrance to Portlock Park.  

Jill and William Schulze have had their sleep disturbed as their home now fills with bright light from a 114-watt streetlight bulb installed earlier this month. 

“The light impacts our entire property and has made it impossible to sleep in the bedrooms facing the road, even with blackout blinds. It also has an impact on our farm animals,” said Jill Schulze.  

BC Hydro did the bulb replacements, but under the direction of the Capital Regional District (CRD), which is in charge of streetlight services. Two different wattages are available, said Schulze, with the 114-watt level appropriate “for areas like the Pat Bay Highway.” The other main option is a 75-watt bulb, which has been used in most other places, including just down the road from the Schulze home at the four-way stop intersection at Central. 

Schulze said, half-jokingly, that a person could read a book without their glasses under the light outside her home at midnight. 

She feels the CRD didn’t do their research in making the choice of bulbs, with the brighter ones not appropriate for areas close to homes. She said they have been bounced back and forth between the CRD and BC Hydro since first making the complaint.  

“We have asked for the streetlight to be removed but the CRD refuses, so we have requested a 39-watt 3,000-Kelvin bulb be used in front of what is a day-use park with no accident history.” 

Karla Campbell, the senior manager for the CRD on Salt Spring, told the Driftwood the residents’ concern about the light across from Portlock Park is being reviewed. 

Streetlight bulb replacement is occurring all over the province, with new LED bulbs, which are more energy-efficient, being used. As well, federal regulations were enacted in 2008 requiring all light ballasts containing poly-chlorinated biphenyls greater than 50 ppm to be removed by the end of 2025, the BC Hydro website explains.

In addition to the 75- and 114-watt differences, 4,000- and 3,000-Kelvin options are used, with the latter producing a softer light.

Schulze said the issue has been raised by a number of communities on Vancouver Island, where the brighter lights were installed in residential or rural areas. 

Campbell said the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission passed a motion in May of 2021 “to ensure the street lighting be replaced with the lowest, most yellow — softest — wattage possible to keep with the rural character of the island and to add night shields where possible.”

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