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Guelph Light Pollution Bylaw

Guelph City Staff Recommend Measures to Combat Light Pollution

City staff are advocating for a ban on light encroachment and launching an educational campaign to assist residents in reducing light pollution. This pressing issue is set to be a major focus at city hall next month.

On July 3, the city council’s committee of the whole will convene to discuss light pollution, with a strong recommendation to reconsider our current use of outdoor lighting. The proposed measures include prohibiting light from spilling over from one private property to another and establishing guidelines for appropriate light fixture use. These guidelines aim to help residents modify their outdoor lighting to minimize light pollution.

“As Guelph continues to grow, the negative effects of light pollution caused by excessive and improperly placed lighting will also increase,” the report highlights. It further explains that current residents often face frustration when neighbouring light sources invade their property, adversely impacting their quality of life.

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Public and online consultations have been conducted to gather input on this matter. The report underscores the far-reaching effects of light, noting that everything around us, including humans, operates according to the natural rhythms of the light-dark cycle.

“Research suggests that artificial light at night can negatively affect human health, increasing risks for obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer, and more,” the report states.

City staff recommend implementing a phased approach to these regulations, considering that most outdoor light fixtures purchased today have an average lifespan of four to six years. The initial phase involves introducing a new bylaw or amendment to address what is termed “light trespassing.”

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“The goal of the regulation is to ensure that light generated on a property remains within that property,” the report explains. Notably, this regulation will not apply to street lighting or other city-installed lighting intended for safety purposes.

The second phase focuses on education, with the development of guidelines to encourage the use of full cut-off light fixtures. These guidelines will help residents understand how to reduce light pollution when installing or replacing outdoor lighting.

After five years, city staff will review the progress made and may present further recommendations to the council.

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