ARICHAT: The deputy warden is worried that a new streetlight policy is removing elected officials from the process.
Council voted to amend Richmond County’s Street Light Policy to include private roads with limitations, mandate the maximum streetlights for district per year, and establish the minimum number of permanent residences on a private road to qualify for lights.
During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on January 28 in Arichat, Deputy Warden Brian Marchand questioned why the director of public works and municipal councillors both have to sign-off before a streetlight request is approved.
“Once the service request has been assessed and approved, are you saying then if a councillor decides to put a streetlight in a certain section, and it’s not approved by the director, it doesn’t get put in?
“… Can his decision to do such a thing be overturned by the Director of Public Works and vice-versa?”
Marchand contends that under the new by-law, if a resident approaches the municipality for a streetlight and the director of public works approves it, elected representatives will be marginalized.
“To me, the councillor should be the one to decide, ‘this is where it goes,’” the deputy warden told council.
District 4 councillor Gilbert Boucher and district 1 councillor James Goyetche received approval to change the wording in the by-law to ensure the director has to consult councillors when a request is made.
Although he agrees there are instances when dialogue needs to happen between councillors and the public works director, Marchand is also concerned about where streetlights are placed.
“My feeling with streetlights, they should be the pole closest to the driveway, for various reasons; to illuminate the driveway for people,” Marchand stated. “Plus when streetlights are out and they are near a person’s home, they will notify us.”
Marchand also disagrees that a minimum of four homes must be on a private road before it can qualify for a streetlight under the by-law.
“What we’re telling people is they’re going to be treated different if you build on a private road,” Marchand told council.
“Those people are not being treated different when it comes to taxation.”
Richmond Chief Administrative Officer Kent MacIntyre explained that rather than approval from council, councillors will now work with staff on a case-by-case basis and the elected officials will “have significant input” in the process.
“All of the decisions on streetlights are being done in consultation with public works,” MacIntyre responded. “It takes two bodies. It’s going to take the local councillor and the director of public works.
“You can’t do something blanket because circumstances are going to be different depending on what street you’re at, how many people live in that immediate area, is there already a lighting system close by? That’s why you have to have a public works person involved in that decision making.”
MacIntyre pointed out there are instances when a resident does not want to contact their councillor about a streetlight request.
“They may prefer not to deal with the councillors when they come to the office,” MacIntyre told council. “That still means it’s incumbent upon us to talk to the district councillor.”
The streetlight policy changes were approved with Marchand as the lone nay vote.