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Streetlights shut off in 2016 budget

Posted on December 22, 2015 by Taber Times

By Trevor Busch
Taber Times

Dollars earmarked for a downtown streetlight program have been removed from the 2016 budget by town council, but could be subject to a re-evaluation in the new year once further information is available.

“We’ve got a 2016 project, the downtown streetlights, for $200,000,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas, speaking prior to the vote at council’s Dec. 7 special budget meeting. “We haven’t made a commitment yet to Fortis, but that was the replacing of the streetlights downtown.”

Through association with Fortis, the project could see the town contribute funding (initially allocated $200,000 in the 2016 budget) to the company in order to be able to select streetlight options for the downtown area that might be more energy efficient or aesthetically pleasing, rather than a standard streetlight replacement selected by Fortis without financial input from the town.

“We’re in the design phase, trying to figure out what the relative cost would be,” said CAO Greg Birch. “Fortis is going to change some of their lights anyway, at their own expense. They have a pot of money available to spend on downtown streetlighting. If you, as council, did the switch on the other ones, how much would that be? That’s an estimate, but what we’ve actually done is spend some money on the lighting pattern set up, that was this year’s budget. We take that back now to Fortis, and we expect Fortis to say we’re spending ‘x’ amount of money, if you wanted to replace this light, it would cost ‘y’. ‘Y’ might be around $200,000.”

Strojwas maintained the amount set aside for the project could be significantly reduced.

“But that’s just a budgetary item, we still have to see the final design and lighting. We could certainly spend $100,000, or $150,000, we certainly don’t have to spend the full $200,000. Fortis is obviously going to upgrade those old streetlights regardless.”

Light standards replaced by Fortis are unlikely to be installing outdated lighting technology, according to Strojwas.

“As technology upgrades here, nobody’s using sodium lights anymore. They’re all going to LED lights. So perhaps they’re looking at getting rid of the sodium lights and going to LED lights anyway. So perhaps the cost isn’t going to be near as much. Sodium lights are a thing of the past, and as Fortis moves ahead, why wouldn’t they move ahead with new LED lights instead of replacing the current old technology with sodium lights?”

At their Dec. 7 special budget meeting, council voted unanimously to remove the $200,000 allocated to the project from the 2016 budget, with the caveat that the decision be re-evaluated once further information has been ascertained by administration.

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