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Changeover to LED streetlights set to get underway in townships, region

Things are going to get a bit brighter in the townships next year.

The Region of Waterloo, in partnership with lower-tier municipalities, is getting a start on installing 43,000 LED streetlights.

The lights are brighter and whiter than the yellow-hued lamps currently lining region and township roads, and will ultimately save taxpayers a big chunk of change every year.

“We are expecting, just on regional roads, to save about $500,000 a year, and regional roads are just a portion of the overall conversion – about 8,000 of the 43,000 lights,” said Bob Henderson, manager of transportation engineering with the region.

Woolwich and Wellesley opted into the program, and in Woolwich, the cost is expected to be $508,557, barring any complications with installation, and will cover some 2,000 lights. LED lights have already been installed on Meadowlark Road in Elmira.

In Wellesley Township, the project will cover 537 light fixtures at a cost of $136,722.

The Region of Waterloo isn’t the first municipality to install the lights, and with areas around Canada logging resident and environmental complaints about earlier versions of LED streetlights, Henderson says staff did their research before undertaking the project.

Some of the complaints heard around the country involve the blueish light coming from the street lamps, the intensity of the light and the interruption of nocturnal animals’ natural cycles.

“We opted to go with a warmer-toned LED streetlight for reasons like mitigating light pollution, to mitigate concerns about the brightness and harshness of the lights and also to reduce the amount of blue light that is in the spectrum of the light source,” shared Henderson. “We also ensured that our project would only consider lights that are international dark sky friendly fixtures.”

The project is the first in Canada to use 3,000 –degree Kelvin lights, which have a warmer tone and aren’t as bright as lights being used elsewhere in the country.

The City of Kitchener and the region have both chosen to go ahead with Smart City controls for their streetlights, allowing the lights to be dimmed or turned off remotely, as well as alerting officials if the lights break or go out.

Woolwich didn’t buy in to the same option. Development engineering technician Jeff Schmidt says it just wasn’t an option for the township.

“One thing is that we don’t have the technical expertise in that field. We don’t have the ability to actually manage it at this point in time. We also don’t have the connectivity for it as well,” he said.

The installation is being scheduled by the contractor, Fairway Electrical, so an installation timeline is as yet unknown. However, the contract specifies an end date of December 2017.

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