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Mayerthorpe council authorizes new streetlight

MAYERTHORPE - Gail Pfannmuller and Mary Dzogola will get the streetlight between 4609 and 4613 – 47 Street which they asked the town to install.

Mayerthorpe council approved the installation at its regular, public meeting on Monday, Sept. 24, following debate about the risk of creating a precedent that would cost the town large amounts of money.

The two residents made the request in a July 25 letter and Coun. Kate Patrick has consistently supported it. In their letter to the mayor and council, the women said installation of a streetlight would “give us added security and peace of mind. Our request comes due to our part of the street being very dark and poorly lit, especially in the winter.”

Approving a motion by Coun. Glen Wilcox at council's Aug. 13 meeting, council had directed staff ask Fortis if a light can be moved to resolve the problem, or the wattage of the bulb could be increased.

At the Sept. 24 meeting, Karen St. Martin, town chief administrative officer, presented council with an e-mail from Nicky Smith, FortisAlberta stakeholder relations manager, in which Smith commented on the two options. Increasing the bulb to 150 watts would not work because the lights illuminate a specific area and brighter light would not reach the residences, she said.

Rotating the arm to move the lighting to the residences wouldn't work either, Smith said. “If the arm is rotated this could impact the lighting levels that light up the street and sidewalks and would change the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society North America) Standards which could potentially increase risks in that particular area.”

The CAO, told council, “What they're saying is, if you deviate from the standards you could be exposing yourself to liability.”

Smith concluded her remarks, stating, “Unfortunately, the only option is to add the new streetlight (for) which the design and cost has been provided.”

That cost, is $321.20 (including GST) for the streetlight and $17.19 a month ($206.28 a year) for operating the light.

The CAO said, “The town has what is called investment lighting. The cost to put up the lighting is very economical.”

In her written report to council, the CAO stated, “Fortis Luminaires by Wattage Diagram illustrates that there are many areas in town with a similar or greater distance between the luminaires.

“Public streetlights are not designed to light private property, nor to provide home security improvements that are the homeowner's responsibility. The purpose of public streetlights is intended to ensure the safety of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“Streetlights should be placed along streets and roads where increased lighting is necessary for the safety of motor and pedestrian traffic.”

St. Martin stated, “Advantages include increased lighting for pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the specific portion of the street. Disadvantages include creating a precedent where the town would be subject to installing street lighting throughout town, (and) potential opposition to proposed improvements to street lighting, especially if the cost is borne by all citizens.

“Other residents might be concerned about glare or light pollution, particularly if a streetlight is to be installed close to their homes. Others might complain that improvements in lighting are being used as an unsatisfactory alternative to lighting private property.

“Alternatives available to citizens include installation of automated security lighting, decorative yard lights, solar lights, and contacting Fortis Alberta and installing a luminaire on their property for which the resident is responsible for the cost of the luminaire and the ongoing operational costs.”

She recommended that council deny the request and that it also direct administration to draft a policy for streetlighting.

Patrick said, “This is the darkest area. I've looked at it many times and (Coun.) Russell (Claybrook) drives through.”

Deputy Mayor Dan Richard, who chaired the meeting because Mayor Kim Connell was absent, agreed. “I've walked through it.”

Coun. James Mason made the motion “that council approve the installation of a streetlight at the most appropriate location near those addresses.”

He said, “I've been there a number of times just to check on it. It's dark.”

The CAO said, “Council has directed administration in the past not to add streetlights unless its a safety issue.”

Mason replied, “I see it as being a pedestrian issue there.”

St. Martin said, “You may want to add a qualifier to that. You may want to know how many streets would be in the same situation (so) that you would be setting a precedent.”

Claybrook said his question is: Would the town be liable for an accident because it has been notified of the problem?

The CAO replied, “You would have to go back to principles. There is no record of any trips or falls, nothing setting a precedent.”

Richard asked, “Do we have to consider this as something that we're going to be spending a lot of money on in the future? Should we look at the big picture?
“If we start here we're probably going to get a lot more requests, especially on the north side of town because there's a lot of dark spots there.”

Wilcox suggested the motion to direct administration to devise a policy, “We could quickly do a lot to our power bill just by approving this.”

He said another consideration is a need to measure and control light levels because of the trend to people disliking too much light, calling it light pollution. “When you take a light meter and go out there at night, it shouldn't vary a lot from one street to another.”

Patrick said, “I'm in favour of this motion, because there’s no consistency with some of those light standards.”
Mason agreed, “From what I can tell by looking at the light, it's difficult to get consistent lighting because we're dealing with lights that are probably the cheapest to install.”
The CAO asked, “Would you consider doing a motion based on the specific distance?”

Council unanimously approved the motion Mason amended to state: That council approve the request for installation of a streetlight in accordance with the Fortis quote based on the specific distance and conditions of this request.

Then it unanimously approved the motion by Wilcox directing administration to bring a policy regarding street lighting to the next policies and priorities meeting or as soon as possible.”

Wilcox said, “I would like it to include something about measuring light levels within the town as well as distance and pedestrian intersections.”

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