Errington residents have brought to light the importance of protecting their dark skies.
Julian Fell, an avid astronomer, recently highlighted biological reasons to preserve dark skies to the Regional District of Nanaimo board. He said it’s important to migration protection, predation, as well as to many plant cycles that rely on the apparent links of the day.
“Just a tiny flashlight in the middle of the night can make plant think it’s still daytime,” said Fell, who has long advocated for a dark skies policy to be created for Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood).
Fell, a former Area F director, said he keeps a telescope set in his yard during summer and fall and finds some of the glaring lights to be problematic.
“What I am saying is that even the smallest amount of light can create a disruption in biological systems,” said Fell. “Biological systems are extraordinary sensitive to light.”
Resident Lynne Brookes raised concerns about the light pollution in Area F. She said dark skies in their rural area is one of its “important characteristics” and needs to be preserved.
Her other concerns include the protection of wildlife and also preservation of the ecological value of insects to the environment. She related recent studies that revealed birds and insects dying due to bright lights. She wants Area F to be excluded from any generic policy that would lead to include increase lighting in their rural environment.
The RDN board agreed to provide initial support to include a dark sky policy in Electoral Area F Official Community Plan and a Dark Sky Bylaw added to Area F’s regulation. The board also agreed that dark side policy and regulation be included in the 2023-2027 strategic plan.
RDN Manager of Long Range Planning, Energy and Sustainability Kim Fowler explained a Dark Skies Bylaw would only apply to new development to the area and not impact the existing ones.
An outreach and policy are also being proposed to provide existing property owners information and options to consider protecting the night skies.