“The Ira Needles Boardwalk commercial development is seen in Waterloo Region in this undated image taken from video.
The lights at the new Ira Needles Boardwalk commercial development may be shining a little less brightly, after complaints from some local star-gazers.
Some businesses in the $100-million development opened late last year, and since then concerns about light pollution and wasted energy have been raised.
And while it is clear businesses need to try to be noticed, and make those shopping at night feel secure, it appears a compromise has been reached.
The project’s developer says energy-efficient LED lighting has been installed and some adjustments are being made to reduce the number of hours the lights are on and also to direct it to where it needs to go.
Those changes are being welcomed by Steve Holmes, president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
“It isn’t even so much the overuse of light as it is the inappropriate use of light,” he says. “As long as the light does not spill off the property it’s really none of our business. But once it starts to project out onto the surrounding neighbourhood and in particular into the sky for us, if the lights are inappropriately aimed that becomes a big problem.”
The main concern was that there was too much light, too much of the time, coming from both the buildings and the light standards in the parking lots.
Steve Voisin, a Boardwalk developer, says “Our parking lot lights at the theatre stay on later than at the rest of the stores, but the rest of the stores as soon as they close they turn off the parking lot lights.”
The lights are also shining downwards, limiting the light pollution.
Holmes says “We don’t think that K-W is ever going to be a place where you can get a good look at the Milky Way at night, but on the other hand we just think that it makes sense when we tell our kids to turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn off the lights when you leave parking lot also makes good sense.”
It’s a case where some positive changes came about, Holmes says, because the developer was willing to listen to their concerns.
Voisin says “We’re here to listen to the residents, we’re here to listen to the astronomy group and we’re approachable.”
Holmes says the Astronomical Society hopes to be more proactive about lighting in the future when these types of developments are in the planning stages.”
Let there be night!