Editorial: Operation Street Lamp – by Lucas Duguid

Ward 3 City Council Member Dan McCreary & Publisher Lucas Duguid.  Photo by Paul Smith courtesy of Photohouse Studio.

In last month’s edition of the Advocate we asked our readers what will you do with an extra twenty four hours? I want to share what I did with mine. 

I live near the corner of Sandra and Buckingham. For those of you not familiar with the area, Sandra is just off Fairview Drive near the Gretzky Centre in Ward 3. We have lived in this neighbourhood for almost eight years. Each night when we drive by Sandra and Buckingham, it’s so dark that I slow down to idling speed with my high beams on to avoid unseen pedestrians. I finally thought to myself, this corner needs a street lamp and it’s time I do something about it.  But where do I start? Who do I call? What’s the process? 

I got the ball rolling with a Facebook message to one of my ward councillors, Dan McCreary. In my message to Dan I identified the area, the issue at hand and my questions regarding the process. At this point Dan made contact with Geoff Rae, General Manager of the city’s Engineering and Operational Services Department. Geoff responded with the following details surrounding the process:

When we receive these requests, staff conduct field investigation to verify the lighting level and if improvements are required. The options for improvement could be:

1. Work with existing street lighting (improve luminare wattage or aim, remove vegetation)

2. Install new light on existing pole

3. Install new pole with new light

With options 2 and 3 it is also necessary to contact Brantford Power to discuss how the street light will be powered. We also discuss with the resident adjacent to the location where the change in lighting will take place.

In this particular case, we have determined that the lighting levels should be improved and we are currently discussing with Brantford Power regarding possible pole locations and how the light can be serviced. We will then be in touch with the resident where the new pole will be placed. 

Across the few weeks that followed, I watched as a position for the street light was scouted, marked, dug out, and installed. I drove by each day to see the progress that had been made, catching glimpses of the work with my phone as I passed. It was incredible to watch just how quickly a phone call turned into a positive change in my own neighbourhood. I can’t imagine it would always be this easy but here I was watching the benefits of knowing the right person to ask the right questions to.

After some very informal polling I was quite surprised to learn that the majority of the people I spoke to didn’t know their ward councillors or, in some cases, even what ward they lived in. This is a major problem. How can we expect to fix the things that are broken and make this a better place to live if we don’t even know where we live?

As citizens, constituents, voters and taxpayers it’s our responsibility to have at least a basic working knowledge of how the government in our city functions. Ward councillors are your representatives on city council and they speak on your behalf every Monday night during public meetings, and throughout the week at City Hall. These men and women are elected to help you. Get to know them. Ask questions. Get involved.

In a fit of cynicism and apathy someone once asked me: “Why do you care? What’s the point? Nothing ever changes.”

Not True. I got a street lamp.

Now it’s your turn. What will you do with an extra twenty four hours?

I’d like to thank Geoff Rae and the staff of the City Engineering and Operational Services Department for their time and hard work, and my ward councillor Dan McCreary for working with me to make our neighbourhood a little safer. 

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