Cities in Canada are jumping on the dark skies bandwagon, too! Saskatoon, in the prairie province of Saskatchewan, recently passed a policy that would see any new street lamps installed in new developments use flat-lens bulbs.
But an environmental advisory committee is asking the city council to go even further by passing an additional policy that would require all lamps (not just new ones) within city limits to be replaced with these eco-friendly alternatives. Although they don’t expect the change to happen overnight, chances are good that the city will begin to see the energy-saving light of day as they make the switch.
Following the lead of Calgary, one province over (Alberta), the Saskatoon environmental advisory group maintains that the city will be able to reap similar financial savings as the larger city over time by switching on these efficient bulbs. Calgary apparently retrofitted all of their conventional streetlights with dark-sky fixtures, a project that cost them $7.5 million. But the savings are estimated to be $2 million a year, making the long-range benefits both environmentally and fiscally positive.
The advisory council is also recommending that the city think twice before approving some new building projects that have questionable light designs. In the past, concerns of excessive glare have put a stop entirely to new projects, but even ensuring that these building projects have eco-friendly outdoor lighting designs is a good move.
So although there is a somewhat steep upfront cost to making the change-over, the upsides far outweigh the downsides. Convincing the city’s residents may take some time, but if a moderate approach is taken – replacing old bulbs with dark-sky bulbs as they burn out rather than all at once – the sell shouldn’t be too difficult.
Another challenge will be to get the local utility company, SaskPower, on board, as they are responsible for maintaining streetlights in new suburbs.
All in all, it’s a step in the right direction, and we’re glad to see our neighbors to the north taking it.