Earth Hour challenge

It’s nothing – really. While Minto councillors do not want to see their residents in the dark, they are encouraging them to take part this weekend in the first international Earth Hour Challenge.

A report from Annilene McRobb stated that the event is aimed at raising awareness of climate change, the World Wildlife Fund initiative is asking individuals, businesses, and communities to switch off their lights for one hour at 8pm on March 29.

The idea was pioneered in Australia last March, when 2.3 million residents in Sydney turned off their lights for one hour – resulting in a 10% reduction in electrical use – saving 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

This year dozens of large and small municipalities are joining the effort and Mc­Robb’s memo to council asked that Minto also sign the pledge to turn off non-essential lighting for an hour and encourage local residents and businesses to do the same.

Mayor David Anderson offered to bring the challenge to other municipalities at this week’s Wellington County coun­cil.

Deputy-Mayor Judy Dirk­sen found the concept interesting, but said “at 8pm on a Saturday night, I would hope all our non-essential lights in the municipality would be off anyway.”

Clerk Barbara Wilson commented that in Australia, families gathered in local ball diamonds to watch the lights of the city go down.

“This would be a baby step.”

However, Dirksen questioned whether the municipality has the ability or the authority to shut off streetlights.

She also questioned what lighting would be considered essential or non-essential.

Mayor David Anderson expected streetlights would remain on, as will lighting at community centres and parklands – to prevent vandalism.

“So, essentially, we’re not doing anything,” Dirksen said.

Anderson said the municipality is encouraging local residents and businesses to turn off their lights for an hour.

Again, Dirksen asked, “So essentially, the municipality is not doing anything different in Minto?”

Council later approved registering for Earth Hour and encouraging its residents to reduce power consumption as part of that event.