Muskoka Lakes recently tightened the rules on lighting within the Township but some feel the new regulations don’t go far enough.
During the most recent Town council meeting councillors agreed to a new set of dark sky friendly bylaws.
Muskoka Lakes resident Daniel Bornstein said as part of a delegation to council, the dark sky friendly bylaw was a great start but it needed more work. Bornstein showed photographs of a number of lights within the municipality which he believed would remain compliant under the new rules, but were intrusive and should not be allowed. Bornstein said that all lights which are not being used should be turned off. He also took issue with the three-year grandfather clauses for existing lights that are non-compliant.
“This bylaw comes close but we’re not there yet,” he said.
Coun. Ruth Nishikawa said she also felt the bylaw needed more work.
There was a significant conversation about placing restrictions on when festive lights can be used. There was some suggestion that perhaps they could be limited to within two weeks of a holiday. However, Township staff said there are a number of difficulties with trying to enforce festive lights. For one, the Township would have to decide which festivals were included, which could be problematic as there are people from many different cultural backgrounds living in Muskoka Lakes celebrating various festivals throughout the year.
Councillors also had concerns with excessive light emanating from inside houses.
Council was informed by staff that enforcing bylaws on interior lights would be virtually impossible, as by law officers have no jurisdiction to enter someone’s home.
After making a few minor changes Council decided to proceed with ratification of the bylaw.
Among the new changes residents will not be permitted to leave architectural lighting or landscape lighting on from 11 p.m. to sunrise of the next day, with the exception of dock light fixtures, pathway light fixtures and a maximum of three outdoor luminaires attached to the exterior of a boathouse.
Other notable rules include:
- No person shall Install or maintain on lands or permit to be Installed or maintained upon a property, an outdoor luminaire that is not a full cutoff fixture
- No person shall Install or maintain on lands or permit to be Installed or maintained upon a property, an outdoor luminaire that creates light pollution
- No person shall Install or maintain on lands or permit to be Installed or maintained upon a property, an Outdoor Luminaire that creates Light Trespass
- No Person shall Install or maintain on lands or permit to be Installed or maintained upon a property, an Indoor Luminaire in a manner that, in the opinion of the Officer, could be a Nuisance to any Person or is positioned in a way that would purposefully impact the night sky
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