• Rob Hornberger

Greenhouses working to reduce light pollution, town council told

Updated: Apr 16

Growers' reaction to bylaw 'generally positive'

Greenhouses illuminate the night sky above Leamington and Kingsville in this photo looking south from the Hallam Observatory in Staples.

KINGSVILLE — Kingsville council was told Monday the town is receiving a high degree of co-operation from greenhouse operators in the push to reduce the amount of light emissions going into the night sky.

The town passed its odour and nuisance bylaw last October and in a subsequent meeting with greenhouse operators the town made it clear it wanted to see full compliance by this fall.

“The frustration from the town residents and the need to address this public concern was at the top of the list (at the meeting),” chief building officer Peter Valore told council.

“It was communicated to the greenhouse owners in attendance that it was time to put measures into place to help manage the problem.”

He said the response from growers was “generally positive.”

The town has set out a timetable for compliance and is willing to hold off enforcement of the bylaw if operators can produce purchase orders for materials needed to block light escaping from their greenhouses.

The greenhouse operators told town officials they were having difficulty purchasing curtains because COVID-19 had caused “a lack of availability.”

Valore said the town has stepped up nighttime inspections and orders of compliance dealing with odour and light emissions have been issued to four cannabis operations.

“I’ve spoken with our neighbours (in Leamington) and their councillors and they’re working hard on this also. So, I think it’s just a matter of time before you see both municipalities hit a home run.”

“Bylaw enforcement encourages town residents to call in complaints regarding night sky (illumination) and odours from greenhouse facilities. Complainants (should) provide specific and accurate details including the property address and the time of the occurrence,” he said in his report to council.

Valore said individual complaints from residents help the town strengthen its case if it’s forced to take an operator to court.

The town’s chief building official said there has been a decline in the amount of light produced by Kingsville greenhouse operators.

“Our recent investigations showed us, and I’m doing the best I can measuring the sky … it’s not an accurate number, but I would say when I look from the west to the east … 80 per cent of the night sky (illumination) was coming from our partners in Leamington … 20 per cent in Kingsville,” he said of one inspection.

He said a subsequent inspection saw the Kingsville figure drop to 10 per cent.

Coun. Larry Patterson said local greenhouse operators have “pulled their wallets out” and praised the level of co-operation. He also praised efforts in Leamington to curb light emissions.

“I’ve spoken with our neighbours (in Leamington) and their councillors and they’re working hard on this also. So, I think it’s just a matter of time before you see both municipalities hit a home run.”

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