To the editor,
Before the HRM heeds the Coast's call for "better lighting" on the Commons ("Halifixes '08," Jan. 3), councillors should read David Owen's article, "The Dark Side" in The New Yorker, 20 August 2007. In an article about light pollution, Owen questions the assumption that brighter means safer. Far from improving visibility, the glare of bright lights near where one is standing makes it harder to see into darker areas. "Much so-called security lighting," he writes, "is designed with little thought for how eyes—or criminals—operate."
The Common feels safe during the day because you can see a long way off and not easily be surprised. The same principle
applies at night. A softer, diffuse light would enhance safety far more than dazzling pinpoints of industrial wattage.
Friendly warm lighting (that does not spike into the sky and the windows of neighbours) would invite neighbourly uses and encourage safety in numbers. I hope councillor Dawn Sloane and her colleagues will read the literature on the social effects of lighting before going for another security "solution" based more on fantasy than reality, and turn the Common into a Siberian parking lot.
By Robin Metcalfe