The Municipality of Leamington said it has filed applications with the Superior Court of Justice seeking court orders against eight greenhouse operators to prohibit the use of lighting that goes against the town's bylaw.
The local regulations, approved a year ago by town council, state greenhouses must ensure their "lights are shut off and remain off" or that curtains are completely closed between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Some greenhouse operators are seeking an exemption from Leamington's light pollution bylaw. The Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, which is an arm of Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, will oversee that process.
The municipality said the court proceedings will not move forward until the exemption issue is resolved. The hearing, involving at least 10 applications, is scheduled to take place in the summer over a number of weeks. "The municipality continues to gather scientific evidence in support of its response to the applications before the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board," said town spokesperson Kelly Sfetkidis.
She said the town has invested "significant resources" to address light pollution and will continue to investigate possible violations. The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers has an optimistic approach to solving this problem, hoping to avoid putting everyone through "these legal wranglings." General manager Joe Sbrocchi said he believes greenhouse growers can reduce roughly 90 percent of the light "almost all of the time." "Honestly, if we can get to 90 percent or more most of the time, I think residents will be able to balance that with the fact that greenhouses bring a lot of beneficial economics into this area," said Sbrocchi. "We play a significant part in the livelihoods of probably close to 20,000 inhabitants of this area. So that should be considered as well."
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