More Input Needed for Light Abatement By-Law in Leamington

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A by-law that would hold greenhouse growers responsible for light pollution in Leamington will have to wait awhile longer.

Council agreed to defer a decision on a light abatement by-law Tuesday night to gather more public input.

The lights are used to grow year round when shorter days and cold nights come in fall and winter.

A draft by-law that went before council would have required curtains along end walls from one hour before sunset and one hour after sunrise.

That doesn't do much for stargazers, according to The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Star Livingstone.

"Light pollution exists in parking lots street lights and a bunch of different things, but right now in Leamington and Kingsville areas the light pollution from the greenhouses is outrageous," he says.

Dan Kahraman grew up in the area before leaving for work. 

He came back and bought a home on Mersea Rd. 11 in 2017 to retire and restless nights followed not long after.

"I'm sure I'm not alone in the complaints that you're fielding, but you should have seen this coming," says Kahraman. "In just the two or three years that I've been here the problem has just mushroomed"

Dr. Justine Taylor with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association says curtains are an option, but Taylor says they can't be used on ceilings as the trapped heat kills crops.

"There are no technical solutions that are available right now for 100 per cent light abatement 100 per cent of the time, that's what we're struggling with, but we are committed to reducing our impact," she says.

Taylor says it's impossible to meet zero light emissions overnight.

"Those are the types of conversations I think we need to have with our members and with experts to understand what that target should be," she says. "Maybe it's 85 per cent now and 90 per cent next year; whatever rolling target makes sense to keep driving innovation to 100 per cent."

The by-law will return to council after public consultation.

Kingsville approved a dark sky compliance by-law for greenhouses Monday night.