Reclaim your sky

François Lemieux
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Non-profit organization wants to rid West Island of light pollution

Members of ‘Reclaim your Sky’ look up at the stars at Centennial Park two weeks ago. Photo by Rob Amyot.

A non-profit organization composed of three young Beaconsfield residents is proposing a novelty way for citizens to reclaim their sky by diminishing light pollution. Light pollution in great urban centres has caused the stars to ‘disappear’ from sight at night since the advent of the night lighting. This group is proposing a way to reduce light pollution and reduce lighting costs for West Island cities as well.

“The goal of this project is to bring stars to urban environments. We do that by eliminating light pollution. The smog pollution is almost no problem when we’re trying to look at the stars. It’s all about the light pollution, the light that we’re sending up into the sky. With all our street lights that are pointing up and all of our commercial lights and all of our floodlights that are sending light into the sky,” said 21-year-old Beaconsfield resident Christian Guay.

The city of Hudson has already passed a bylaw to allow this and the ‘Reclaim your Sky’ program is now aiming to take that bylaw and modify it for the cities of Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Ste. Anne de Bellevue.

Nothing has been confirmed with Beaconsfield yet, the primary target of the group, but discussions have been held with councillor Wade Staddon. Beaconsfield has already engaged in a pilot project in which the street lights have been changed to new LED lights pointing only towards the ground on Brown Owl Lane. Staddon said the project would be looked at this fall during budget discussions.

“You have to put money out but you have long-term savings. It’s an interesting compromise: you have long-term savings in terms of not having to change your infrastructure as often and your electricity costs should be significantly lower as well over time. I find it very interesting and it’s part of the discussion that we will be having in the budget meetings with council,” he said. 

Right now, the lights in Beaconsfield are replaced over a five year period and there are about 2,500 lights. What the group is proposing is to eliminate labour costs by integrating the replacement of the heads on the lights with the maintenance. Instead of having city employees going up and replacing the lights with regular lights, the city would either had a cut-off to the light, angling it down, or replace it with a new light.

The advantage with that is this method is that the current lights last about five years and require maintenance, thus, are expensive. Whereas the new lights actually last for about 20 to 25 years and require very little maintenance. For the whole city it would cost about one million dollars, in Beaconsfield. That’s considering the 2,500 lights. The payback period is estimated between five and ten years.

“The reason why you make the money back, is because you’re using a lot less energy. You’re not sending up anything into the sky anymore. So you’re saving money every year. And after three to four years, that million dollars is made back into your pocket and the lights last twenty years. By the time you’re done with those lights, you’ve saved millions of dollars. And you get the stars back,” said 20-year-old Jérémie Guay, brother of Christian.

Geographic location: Beaconsfield, West Island, Hudson

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  • Susan de Courcy
    September 11, 2012 - 08:39

    François should not write your English language material. You should be embarassed by the number of gramatical errors in this piece.