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Selkirk Trestle better in the dark, CRD says

Anonymous donation for lighting could encourage crime, parks manager says

The price couldn’t be better, but an offer for free solar lighting on the Selkirk Trestle bridge wasn’t enough to sway the the Capital Regional District.

“In the law enforcement field, there is some disagreement (about whether lighting prevents or enables crime),” said Lloyd Rushton, CRD parks manager. “That’s part of why we don’t want to move ahead.”

Last July, an anonymous donor came forward with more than $100,000 to place 26 solar LED lights, called EverGEN 1710 by Carmanah Technologies, along the portion of the Galloping Goose Trail spanning the Gorge Waterway.

After studying the pros and cons, however, the CRD parks department decided against the idea.

“We had a review done of the proposal and one part of that was having a consultant look at the lighting proposal from a safety point of view,” said Rushton. “The consultant recommended that we not go ahead with the project. We then had discussions with the person representing the donor, and they agreed ... that it probably wasn’t appropriate to go ahead.”

The anonymous donor is open to using the funds for other improvement projects, Rushton added.

Studies into light’s effects on crime have different results.

The U.S. Department of Justice concludes that street lighting can reduce crime. The National Recreation and Park Association, however, argue secluded parks and pathways need to be treated differently.

“If (an area) is devoid of potential witnesses, don’t light it,” said Bill Beckner, research manager of the American advocacy group. People intending to commit a crime can hide in the shadows, he explained.

An information report about the CRD’s decision to reject the solar lights will go to CRD Parks committee in April.

“This might be a donation for less than a kilometre of trail and we’ve got dozens of kilometres within the urban area,” said Rushton.

In 2013, the CRD will review the management plan for the entire Galloping Goose Trail. The appropriateness and affordability of lighting the trail, or portions of it, will likely be a part of those discussions.



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