By Trevor Busch
Enforcement concerns over illumination in twin alleys in Taber’s downtown has motivated council to sign off on a plan for enhanced street lighting.
The Taber Police Service asked public works to look into the cost of illuminating the alley north of 48th Avenue between 53rd Street and 54th Street and the alley behind 5303 47th Avenue. Police were concerned about criminal activity in these areas because of the lack of illumination in the alleys.
“Chief Abela approached us, and informed us, of a high crime rate in two lanes, and they would like some lighting to ensure that they have visual contact down the lanes,” said public works director Gary Scherer at town council’s April 23 meeting. “There is a high cost associated with this, but if you look up at the poles, there’s a number of wires that they’re going to have to move around to get these lights in.”
The cost of the project will be $8,703.82 to be funded from capital reserves, and will assist in “lighting dimly lit areas that are currently used for criminal and community standards occurrences.” Fortis Alberta proposed the installation of five additional 150 watt LED streetlights on eight foot streetlight brackets.
“Recently, I have noted that the streetlights in our community do not sufficiently illuminate several intersections and other locations,” stated TPS Chief Graham Abela in a mid-April letter to Scherer. “I will be conducting a review this spring that will examine intersection lighting as it relates to pedestrian traffic and will provide a report to the (police) commission at that time. I am of the view, however, that an immediate change should be made in two locations that would assist in lighting dimly lit areas that are currently used for criminal and community standards occurrences.”
Areas of concern cited by Abela included the alley south of the Royal Hotel tavern east to the Oilmen’s Club (53rd Street – 54th Street) and the alley north of the Palace Hotel tavern east to the Taber Gymnastics Fitness Club facility (53rd Street – 54th Street). Fortis Alberta would also point out that a lighting design had not been performed for the project, requiring a “lighting waiver” to be signed by the municipality prior to construction as illumination levels may not meet industry recommendations.
“This project has not been designed to meet Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) guidelines,” stated Fortis quotation analyst Chris Yau in a March 27 letter to the town. “We wish to bring this point to your attention, since we recommend that all lighting systems be designed to meet IESNA guidelines. We will however, respect your decision should you choose to proceed with this lighting installation even though it does not.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering asked Scherer what he thought about the merits of the project.
“I think it’s a very good idea. I think it would help your police out immensely.”
Councillors Jack Brewin and Mark Garner investigated the proposed locations, with Brewin inquiring if the new lighting was to be installed on existing poles.
“It would be a lot bigger cost if you put actual street lighting in, and it would have to be in somebody’s parking area,” replied Scherer. “So it will just use what’s there.”
Brewin also asked if area business owners had been approached as a possible alternative.
“Have we considered — I own a building further down one of those alleys — I would be more than willing to put a light on that building, and even pay the power costs, it’s fine. Have we explored businesses putting lights up?”
Scherer appeared to be concerned about town liability involved in such a scenario.
“It’s more of an issue of maintenance then. If someone comes and breaks in, is the town going to be liable for that, or the business owner? This way they’re all elevated, they’re LED lights, they’re nice and bright.”
Brewin was also interested in the intensity of the proposed lighting, with Scherer explaining that the lights to be installed would be 150 watts, which exceeds the town’s standard street light intensity of 90 watts.
“Being that they’re so much brighter, is this going to affect the residents that have apartments in those back lanes there?” questioned Coun. Joe Strojwas.
Scherer suggested there will be an unavoidable lighting increase in the area, but that this shouldn’t be a cause for concern for residents.
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to approve the purchase and installation.