April 2023

Advocating to Preserve  Our Dark Sky

As most of our members know, your association has championed the preservation of the night sky in Muskoka and especially on the Torrance Barrens for many years.  We were very proud of our contributions to articulate and help formulate much of the current Dark Sky By-Law (2014 -029) in Muskoka Lakes.

The MRA was pleased that the previous Council initiated a review of the effectiveness and short comings of the current by law. The current Council continues to solicit input and craft the requisite updates to ensure transient light pollution is minimized without compromising safety and our night time activities.

Last year the MRA provided Council with our written submissions to a proposed draft by law update via the Engage Muskoka Survey (a copy of that letter is available on the MRA website).    Earlier this year the MRA provided additional comments to Council on the proposed by law (that letter is also available on the MRA website).   A number of very good ideas and comments were made to the Muskoka Lakes Planning Committee on January 20, 2023.   Committee directed staff to meet with all interested parties to discuss concerns and alternate ideas to further improve the draft by law.

The MRA met with Township planning and by law staff on March 2, 2023 to provide our comments and concerns.   Below are the major points made by the MRA:

  • No need to have cut off fixtures for solar garden lights of 6 lumens or less.
  • Light Trespass technically is any exterior light seen from an adjacent property. The MRA believes that the term nuisance lighting should be employed to differentiate and regulate offensive lighting.
  • Reference to grandfathered luminaires will be redundant shortly after this by law is passed and therefore it is unnecessary to include it.
  • The MRA believes that the by law needs to make provision for small illuminated signs that show business hours of operation and/or OPEN or CLOSED
  • The MRA believes the proposed schedule of penalties for noncompliance are excessive. A minimum fine of $500 for a noncompliant bulb or fixture is egregious in view of smaller fines for removing a tree or a $30 fine for a parking violation
  • The MRA would like to see the by law contain a number of guidelines, as opposed to regulations e. recommendation that lights be <3,000 deg K where possible, use motion sensors and timers to save energy, as well as to reduce light pollution, use the lowest lumen output to illuminate the area and if in doubt employ a lighting professional to design a lighting plan for your property.

Liz Denyar

MRA President