Heritage-style lighting in the downtown core has been on the Tillsonburg BIA bucket list for more than 15 years.
And at Wednesday’s special Tillsonburg Council meeting, the green light was given to have new ‘tear drop’ style light fixtures installed in the downtown area by the end of the year.
“Around 30 years ago, the poles you see now, we didn’t get a say in that,” said BIA chair Kim Miggens. “So when the facade improvement program started in the 90s, it was called something different then, that was always on our list – that if we’re going to have the (Victorian Heritage) facelift done, then it would be nice to have what we always called ‘heritage lighting.'”
The BIA owns the downtown benches and heritage-style garbage units, she noted. “It’s up to the BIA to do a lot of the beautification.”
In November 2017 Council had approved a plan to convert its streetlights to LED (light emitting diode) – 2,800 in total – and as part of that process consulted with the Tillsonburg Business Improvement Area regarding the downtown area.
After reviewing options, at its June 27th meeting the BIA selected the Renaissance model (Tear Drop) upgrade. Seventy heritage lights are to be upgraded in the downtown BIA area at a cost of $2,095.33 per light.
BIA requested the town apply $31,6686.75 of its remaining AMO Main Street grant to the project, and the BIA would cover up to $115,000 to complete the upgrade through a 10-year $115,000 debt to be paid by the BIA.
Other associated costs (photocell, rewiring and installation) are covered in the town’s overall 2,800-light project. BIA is only paying for the fixture upgrade, and its heritage-style arm.
“Not only does it add value to the downtown, it adds value to whole town,” said Deputy Mayor Dave Beres. “It shows that the merchants care in the community and everybody wins, I love it. The entire town will benefit from this because people take pride in the downtown area, and the BIA people have taken a great deal of pride in the downtown area and it reflects on the whole community being progressive.”
Councillor Max Adam, noting the next regular Council meeting is August 13th, asked if there was any pressure on the BIA to get Council’s endorsement of the resolution.
“It’s a direct function of the fact that come this Friday at 2 p.m. we may not be in a position to make this decision or a sitting Council could not give this direction until some time in December,” replied Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar, asking the Director of Operations, Kevin Deleebeeck, for confirmation.
The deadline for Councillors to declare whether they are running in the October 2018 Municipal Elections is Friday afternoon. If any of the current Tillsonburg Councillors decline to run in the 2018 election, the Council will be given the so-called ‘lame duck’ designation for the rest of its term and be unable to make major/monetary decisions.
“Essentially, the contract is with the Town, not with the BIA,” said Deleebeeck. “So as part of the award process in November of last year, it was discussed at Council that we would discuss with the BIA. We started this process back in May and we’re just at that cross-hairs point in time. The risk of not moving forward this year… is that there is a risk of material costs increasing. Just as an example, the aluminum poles that we’re currently buying were $1,700 earlier this year, they are now $2,200, just because the price of the commodity has changed.”
Deleebeeck confirmed the $1,700 price will be continue ‘at this point in time.’ Delaying the downtown core conversion until 2019 would bring no price guarantees.
Adam asked Deleebeeck if the LED streetlights “provide enough brightness on the street for people to feel safe” and “are the lights downtown any closer physically than a typical subdivision?”
Deleebeeck noted the LED lighting is brighter than the older HPS (high pressure sodium) lights.
“It’s more or less likely the perception that it’s not giving off as much light because the light is more directional to the roadway, rather than casting a shadow beyond onto the front lawns. The pole spacing downtown, compared to a typical subdivision, is about the same. It’s that these poles are much higher in order to broadcast the light over a much wider road section.”
The downtown lights would have the “same lighting characteristics” as the average subdivision LED lights.
Councillor Jim Hayes, who lives in an area where the lights have already been converted to LED, confirmed that “on the street itself, it seems very bright.”
“When would we anticipate this project might be completed in the downtown area?” Councillor Penny Esseltine asked Deleebeeck.
Converting the entire BIA area will not be finished before mid-November, Deleebeeck replied, but they are going to prioritize the area of the Santa Claus Parade, to make sure the ‘tear drop’ lights are completed on the route before the Nov. 17th parade.
Esseltine also brought up the question of how bright the lights would be.
“It’s a brighter white light,” said Deleebeeck. “While it may seem darker on the back side of the light, it is brighter on the roadway.”
“And people will notice that there are new fixtures?” Esseltine asked.
“You will notice the fixture if you look up,” Deleebeeck nodded.
Councillor Chris Rosehart asked whether the light fixtures on Broadway would start at the corner of Oxford/Baldwin Streets, or further south at London Street.
Deleebeeck confirmed the tear drop lights will be installed from Bridge Street to London Street.
As of June 30, approximately 40 per cent of the town’s LED streetlight conversion project had been completed. The rest were scheduled to be done in July and August.
Kevin Deleebeeck, Director of Operations, said they are a couple weeks behind schedule and it will be completed in September.