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Downtown LED fixtures ‘horrifying’

By Jesse Boles
Ridgeway Business Improvement Area

As you all may or may not have noticed, the Town has made their way downtown with the LED retrofit project. It was horrifying to see the other day our beautiful heritage style fixtures being torn down and new LED fixtures that have a very industrial/marine utility look to them going up in their place.

When this LED program was announced in January, I emailed the person at Town hall listed as the project contact voicing concern to how the retrofit would be handled in respect to our decorative lanterns. This email was never returned. In addition, 3 phone calls with voicemails were not returned.

A few days ago the contractor had made it to our downtown core to complete our retrofit, except our lights were not retrofitted. They were torn down and replaced with lights of half the size, scale and style as previous.

Our lighting is an integral part of our downtown heritage look. Our lighting is also new as of 5 years ago when the revamp and design of downtown was completed, a project that received heavy consultation and input from the BIA and the community into the design, look and feel of downtown.

The RBIA and surrounding community should have had the opportunity to consult and comment on this project before it was done.

According to the workers doing the job our decorative fixtures are slated for disposal. In researching the ability to retrofit our existing fixtures I have found many examples and abilities to do so. For instance, a drive down Jarvis Street shows that all of their decorative glass globes similar to ours have been retrofitted with LED while maintaining the existing heritage fixtures. It is not right that the tax dollars of this downtown core have been spent 5 years ago to purchase beautiful historically accurate fixtures and now thrown away and spend again for utility style fixtures. In conversation with several stakeholders in downtown this sentiment is shared by all.

In an effort to right this wrong, I will be speaking in front of council at 6pm on Tuesday night. I’ve also made an invitation to a round table discussion on Thursday with Kelly Walsh, Director of Infrastructure Services with the Town to come to a solution on this matter. He has confirmed with me that he will make sure the fixtures are not disposed of and destroyed until after we have had a chance to sit down and discuss and to bring our concerns to council. He has also indicated that he will be having a conversation with Robert Judd at the Town as to why none of my inquiries received a response in order to avoid this situation.

This issue has been addressed with Councilor Butler who was concerned that it may be too late for a fix in this issue as the work has already commenced. I have informed her that proper communication and response to concern by Town staff before hand would have avoided this issue and that unfortunately we will not accept the answer of “It’s too late” from the Town as they were given ample chance to include us in this process beforehand as we were 5 plus years ago in the Ridgeway / Thunder Bay Master Plan.

As event coordinator to the RBIA, the heritage look and feel of our town is integral to “selling” Ridgeway to the public and promoting our events. I hope that as many of you as possible will be able to stand behind me at council this week and hopefully produce some results.

If anyone has any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call me.Town

Jesse Boles
289-476-1311 Extension 4

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