The Municipality of Leamington has no tolerance for greenhouse operators who violate its bylaws, and it's let 12 of them know.
The 12 greenhouse owners face 88 charges for violating the municipality's greenhouse light abatement bylaw.
Leamington's municipal council passed the current bylaw in June 2022. It gave owners a choice, install blackout curtains or shut the lights off.
Those greenhouses that had curtains are supposed to close them at 5 p.m. and not open them until 8 a.m.
Some greenhouses didn't have curtains, so those owners had a choice, submit documentation saying they planned to install them or sign a declaration they would turn off the lights.
None of the greenhouses wanted to keep the lights off, but only two submitted evidence they were installing curtains.
The deadline to notify the municipality was October 1, 2022, and enforcement started in November.
The charges are related to numerous violations across many days.
"It is unfortunate that several greenhouse owners continue to be in violation of our bylaw, particularly those greenhouse owners with whom the municipality settled previous proceedings," said Mayor Hilda MacDonald. "We are hopeful that in most cases, compliance will be achieved within a reasonable amount of time.
It will be months before the violations are before the courts, and in the interim, bylaw enforcement continues investigating, and further proceedings are pending.
Leamington's greenhouse glow from Tilbury. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle)
Councillors amended a previous bylaw giving operators the option of installing curtains after several greenhouses violated it. Even after a warning, the Superior Court of Justice sent out orders to some owners.
The previous municipal council enacted the bylaw after residents complained about their lack of sleep because of almost daylight hours at night. At the height of the problem, residents in Windsor, Tilbury, and across Lake Erie in Ohio could see a greenish-yellow or purple glow emanating from Leamington.
Since then, councillors in Kingsville, Essex, and Chatham-Kent have enacted bylaws to control nighttime light pollution. Lakeshore is currently investigating rules for future greenhouse development.