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History Making Town Tackles New Issue

The town of Hudson, Quebec, made North American history in 1991 when it banned the applications of weed and insect killers on lawns and gardens. Their efforts are featured in the award-winning film, A Chemical Reaction.

Though it’s not related to lawn care, these days the town is making news with a different kind of ban. Here’s a story from the Hudson Gazette:

The Hudson Gazette

Hudson considering asking residents to curb light pollution

by Karen Seidman

Hudson is one step closer to tackling the hazy issue of light pollution after town council agreed at a meeting Monday night to have a draft bylaw drawn up outlining how to combat unnecessary glare.
But residents can rest easy – it doesn’t mean nighttime lighting will be banned or that oil lamps will be recommended. It just means more responsible lighting will be encouraged.

For a town that was at the forefront of the movement banning pesticides, it’s no surprise that the bucolic burb may be one of the first places to address a kind of pollution most people don’t even know exists. But while the council seems ready to take the issue seriously, what may prove to be most difficult if a bylaw is eventually passed is enforcing it.

“I suspect it will be hard to enforce,” said Hudson Mayor Michael Elliott. “Kind of like a noise bylaw.”

However, he said council is taking the advice of the its environment committee and will seriously consider a resolution restricting light pollution.

“It’s true that places like public parking lots may not need as much light as they often put,” said Elliott.
Pierre Tournay is the Hudson resident and amateur astronomer behind the idea and he is thrilled that the wheels have been set in motion and his goal of a light pollution bylaw may become a reality.
“As an astronomer, of course, my goal is to see the stars,” Tournay said in an interview. “But this is also a chance for municipalities to save money.”

Across Quebec, he said, 780 billion watts per year are wasted, representing about $35 million to $50 million. Montreal represents about one-third of that amount. Despite that, when he first went to the Vaudreuil municipal regional county – which represents 23 off-island communities – to present a light pollution bylaw in 2007, he never heard back from them.

So he decided to target Hudson as a starting point.

“I need someone to champion this,” said Tournay.

And Hudson may be just the town with the gumption to do it. So far, according to Tournay, there are mainly a few places in the Eastern Townships that have adopted light pollution bylaws.

So what is light pollution?

Tournay says it is lost light, like when your driveway light also lights up the neighbour’s trees.

“Most lights on highways, soccer fields, buildings go beyond the intended area,” explained Tournay.

He recommends using visors on bulbs to direct lights to exactly where they are supposed to go. This also has the advantage of allowing people to use lower wattage bulbs, because the directed light will be brighter.

“I’m just asking people to light in a sensible way,” said Tournay. “I don’t want the bylaw to be confrontational. If you tell people they can’t turn on lights, they will revolt against it.”

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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