Take an evening stroll in Salmon Arm’s Marine Park and you’ll have an opportunity to see the city’s iconic wharf in a different light.
In December, the City of Salmon Arm changed all the light standards along the wharf over to LED fixtures. Though perhaps not as elegant as the prior bulb light standards, the new LED lamps are expected to be more efficient and, it’s hoped, more resilient.
City engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen says the lighting switch-over at the wharf took place in December for a couple of reasons – one being vandalism. The bulbs, he says, were being broken and the posts were “good, but you could wiggle them.” So there was a regular cost of maintenance and repair.
The new wharf lighting also represents an experiment to see what will best serve Salmon Arm’s future illumination needs. The LEDs are one kind of lighting the city is looking at. Another is induction lighting, currently in use near Centenoka Mall where road frontage improvements were recently completed. Both types of lighting are being promoted by BC Hydro, though not to an extent where one is favoured over the other.
Actually, there are a number of reasons to not rush into anything. The experiment, Niewenhuizen explains, will give the city an idea of the longevity of the new lighting options, as well as costs of maintenance and upkeep. Knowing in advance what works best will, of course, help with the other, perhaps larger issue of replacement.
“The current style of light standards we have, there’s only a couple of companies that do the retrofitting,” says Niewenhuizen. “So do we retrofit the lights at a fairly significant cost for each light, or do we go to a completely different light standard?
“So each of these programs would be phased in, where we basically pick an idea with what we’re going with, and then over the next 15 or 20 years we start replacing them. Because there’s not enough money to go in and just do a whole section of the community. The payback isn’t there.”
So far, the benefits to LED lighting are looking good to Niewenhuizen. He says the light cast by the lamps is directional, aimed downward to the dock, so there is a reduction in light pollution compared to the old bulbs.
“They last longer, probably 50 to 75 per cent longer than the high-pressure sodium lights…,” says Niewenhuizen.
“The cost savings for the LED is probably a tenth of the high-pressure sodium bulbs or even standard bulbs. Of course, it takes a long time for a sort of payback period on that. But it’s something we are investigating.”