Leamington council agrees to new by-laws for greenhouse light reduction
Greenhouse lights in Essex County on Oct. 23, 2020. (Chris Campbell / CTV Windsor)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Municipality of Leamington has adopted new by-laws meant to keep night skies dark.
Council on Tuesday evening agreed to a new Light Abatement By-law for greenhouse operators.
Under the rules operators will be required to close greenhouse curtains an hour before sunset until an hour before sunrise.
“It’s regrettable because some of this is going to be very difficult to accomplish,” said Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association general manager Joseph Sbrocchi.
The curtains can be 90 per cent closed from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m. to help prevent a night sky glow.
“The blackout curtains need to be open a smidge to allow heat and humidity out because those lights can do damage to the crops if they’re not vented,” Sbrocchi said.
Greenhouses without side curtains have until April 1, 2021 to have them installed and until Oct. 31, 2021 for the ceiling curtains.
As well an interim by-law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021 requiring those operations without shade to turn off the grow lights from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Sbrocchi said the bylaws can make it difficult for growers since there are very few hours of sunlight in the winter, which is why the lights exist.
“It’s going to be very difficult for farmers to do that and optimize their production at a critical time of the year when it already costs a lot more to do so to grow the vegetables and even fruit then in the summertime,” he said.
Violators could be fined $1,000 each day and repeat offences could result in legal action from the town.
- With files from CTV Windsor's Alana Hadadean.