As reported in the Vancouver Sun on July 29,2008, Canadian cities are catching the dark sky wave as they realize the benefits of enacting policies that limit the amount of light leaking upwards into the night sky. In the Municipal District of Foothills, a rural area adjoining Calgary, Alberta, a new bylaw is being considered to reduce light pollution. Although some municipal districts and counties within the province have established light control bylaws, this will be the first dark-sky legislation in Alberta.
This bylaw, known as the Dark Sky Initiative, aims to reduce glare, up-lighting, and light trespass, all serious problems associated with inefficient light fixtures and bulbs. Glare reduces visibility and creates safety concerns for motorists and pedestrians. Light trespass occurs when the light from one fixture spills over into a space that does not require illumination. And up-lighting problems result in light being sent skyward unnecessarily.
To combat these problems, the new Dark Sky Initiative will encourage the use of flat-lens fixtures instead of traditional bulbs which create the problems noted above. Through legislation and education, the municipal district hopes to gain support for this new initiative, with the aim of having it finalized in 2009.
The Foothills bylaw will benefit the residents in the area as well as those working at the University of Calgary Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, which is the third largest observatory in Canada. There is hope that the new Dark Sky Initiative will protect the night sky for astronomers and amateur stargazers throughout the region.
Canadians have several organizations to look to for resources regarding light pollution. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) and the Light Pollution Abatement (LPA) Committee are working to provide greater support for dark sky initiatives throughout the country. As a result of their work, there are seven Dark Sky Preserves and Resources within Canada, many of which are in provincial parks.