Reducing Light Pollution
What is light pollution?
Light that shoots upwards or horizontally, creating so called 'sky-glow', or illumination of the night sky.
What are the effects of light pollution?
1. Energy waste
2. Harm to wildlife (e.g. disrupting animals' circadian rhythms, confusing migrating animals)
3. Negative impacts on human health (e.g. interfering with Melatonin production)
4. Degradation of the night sky (e.g. loss of the ability to see stars, the Milky Way, and all deep space)
As part of the Muskoka community, we are neighbours to the Torrance Barrens and must therefore be conscious of our use of artificial lighting and how it will impact the night sky. If every member of the Muskoka community takes a few simple steps to reduce light pollution and advocate with the Township, the Torrance Barrens (and Muskoka as a whole) will retain a starry night for generations to come.
Both the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the Town of Gravenhurst possess a 'Dark Sky By-law', which regulates lighting in the community with the goal of preserving the night sky. However, it is up to Muskoka residents to complain about violations of the by-law and advocate for its enforcement. The image below (Gravenhurst and Muskoka Lakes Dark Sky By-law) shows the different full cut-off fixtures in which lamps must be recessed. It is important to remember that full cut-off fixtures are not the whole remedy. Light must also not be too bright nor too numerous.
How can you help reduce light pollution?
While Stargazing at the Barrens:
1. Do not light fires
2. Minimize your usage of flashlights and phone lights (if you turn off all lights and wait a few moments, your eyes will adjust to the darkness)
If you are a property owner or renter in Muskoka:
1. Purchase full cut-off fixtures (shown above) for your lamps. This will ensure light from your lamp points downwards and not up into the night sky. It is also now legally required in the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the Town of Gravenhurst.
2. Be conscious about the amount of lighting you use. Even with full cut-off fixtures, excessively bright light causes light pollution via light reflecting off of the ground. If an area on your property doesn't need to be illuminated for safety reasons, don't illuminate it. If it does, ensure that you are not using bulbs that are excessively bright.
3. Use warm colored light bulbs. Blue and white light causes significantly more light pollution.
4. Advocate for strong enforcement of the Dark Sky By-law.
5. Complain when you see blatant light pollution in Muskoka. The Dark Sky By-law is complaint-based and will not be enforced if people do not come forward when they see violations.