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Municipality of Leamington and OGVG reach compromise, new light reduction bylaw passes


After months of negotiations between the Municipality of Leamington and greenhouse growers, a replacement bylaw has been passed, setting a clear limit on nuisance lighting.

For several years the dark skies above Essex County have been lit up with an eerie glow — grow lights emanating from greenhouses.

“We don’t really know what darkness is anymore,” said Dan Kahraman, one of many residents who pushed the municipality to crack down.

Kahraman cited light pollution as potentially disrupting migratory wildlife and impacting quality of life, including his hobby of astronomy.

“Without really intending to, your neighbour is affecting your ability to enjoy your own property,” he said.

A 2020 Leamington bylaw sought to eliminate the light completely, but greenhouse growers pushed back, saying they need to vent the space or risk losing their crops.

“From there we know it wasn’t the most right solution that was going to best serve our membership,” said Aaron Coristine, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) manager, science, regulatory affairs.

A few growers even took the matter to court, before the Superior Court and the normal farm practices protection board.

A compromise was reached between the municipality and OGVG and a new bylaw was passed this week.

“This is a balance between the residents that are affected and the industry that needs to bring food to the population,” said Mayor Hilda MacDonald.

The replacement bylaw requires all growers who use lights to install permanent curtains on the side and walls which must be closed overnight.

Ceiling blinds can now be 10 per cent open in the evenings between 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

“They’ll be able to look up, see the night sky, the stars, we are not anticipating any negative impacts on any type of migratory behaviour,” Coristine said.

Growers have until Oct. 1 2022 to order light-blocking curtains and Oct. 1 2023 to have them fully operational.

“The compromise it’s a good start, my concern is are we going to be stuck with it?” Kahraman asked.

“Is that going to be a static immovable cast-in-stone agreement, or is there room for eventually, as technology advances and the costs are reduced to improve on these things?”

Mayor MacDonald said the issue will be revisited as technology evolves.

“We will look at that 10 per cent, and if it is proven that we can do with less, they can do with less, we will move towards that,” she said.

CTV News has learned matters before the courts and the farm board will be dropped in lieu of the new agreement.

Fines for non-compliance will be $750 per infraction. Top Stories

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