Article by Windsor Star
One day after Kingsville’s town council unanimously approved a bylaw to stop light pollution from greenhouses and odours from cannabis production, Leamington’s council voted unanimously to seek more information from growers and the public before considering a light pollution bylaw.
“I think this is long overdue,” Kingsville Coun. Laura Lucier said Monday. “I’m so glad we’re doing this tonight.”
Said Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald on Tuesday, “This is not a deferral. I just want more information.”
Kingsville’s bylaw stipulates that light from cultivating plants cannot shine on neighbouring properties or into the sky at night, causing “a nuisance,” and includes fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $50,000 for corporations for a first offence and double that for subsequent offences.
There was talk of deferring the issue for two weeks to get feedback from the public. But most councillors said they’ve heard plenty from residents in recent years.
“I’ve been receiving resident feedback for over two years,” said Coun. Larry Patterson. “Take a ride through Ruthven, take a ride down County Road 31, Albuna Townline, come into the back side of Kingsville. It stinks. Everybody’s fed up with it.”
People have also been waiting for growers to become “dark sky compliant,” he added. With the new bylaw, “we will get that.”
The bylaw gives the town “extensive authority” to conduct inspections and issue orders and fines, a staff report states. If a greenhouse operator fails to comply with an order, the town can complete the necessary work and bill the operator.
Leamington, like Kingsville, has received complaints for years, and the number of complaints has increased with the growth of cannabis production, stated a staff report. The light comes from grow lamps that are used when days are shorter, usually from September to March.
“I can not, basically, enjoy my property at all,” Leamington resident Dan Kahraman, who lives on Mersea Road 11, told council. “I’m sure I’m not alone in my complaints. You should have seen this coming.”
Star Livingstone of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Windsor Centre called light pollution from greenhouses “outrageous.” Light pollution will soon destroy the dark sky preserve at Point Pelee National Park, he said.
“There won’t be any dark sky preserve,” he said.
Growers want to be “good neighbours,” said Justine Taylor of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers. But, she said, “we do not believe 100 per cent abatement is possible.” When the temperature outside is still warm in the fall, and a greenhouse is sealed with blackout curtains, it becomes too hot inside for the plants, she said. The greenhouse then needs to be vented. Research is being conducted into how to safely block all the light, she said.
Leamington councillors asked about rules in other regions with greenhouses. Growers in Huron, Ohio, must block 90 per cent of greenhouse light under a bylaw there. Rules in the Netherlands vary depending on the time, calling for strict abatement in the evening and allowing for venting later at night.
MacDonald said she also wants to hear from growers of cannabis and flowers on what they require.
“To put forward a bylaw not based on facts will only land us in court or in an appeal situation,” she said.
She said she also wants to know what the majority of residents want. Some complain about the light in the evening, when they’re sitting in their backyards. Others complain about it when they’re trying to sleep late at night.