Preserve the Dark Skies above Muskoka's Torrance Barrens
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Whereas the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Reserve was the world's first permanently designated dark sky reserve and achieved international media attention for Muskoka, making it an important draw for tourists and stargazers thereby enhancing Muskoka's reputation as a "go to" destination;
Whereas the effort to preserve the Dark Sky not only protects the viability of the Torrance Barrens but also the environment of "cottage country" and thus contributes to the special features for which Muskoka is famous and visited;
Whereas the Dark Night Sky in Muskoka is a treasured asset comparable to water quality, wildlife or healthy trees;
Whereas light pollution causes glare to emanate upwards and be dispersed by the atmosphere, creating a glow which washes out all deep space objects (like nebulae and galaxies) and even stars and planets, making the night sky awash with an artificial glow;
Whereas this sky glow is endemic to urban centres around Ontario and is not compatible with an environment seeing to remain natural. Stopping its spread helps to ensure that Muskoka retains its precious natural environment and does not take on an urban look;
Whereas the Town of Gravenhurst has adopted some Dark Sky friendly lighting, (notably at the Wharf and on Main Street), but in other places has dropped the ball and ignored its own Site Plan Agreements which called for dark sky friendly lighting (such as the large plaza now known as the Rio Can site near Hwy 11);
Whereas Dark Sky lighting which utilizes full cut off fixtures, is aimed downwards (as opposed to up or sideways) and is not too bright (so as to minimize reflected light) can mitigate damage to the night sky;
Whereas the Town of Gravenhurst (into which half of the Torrance Barrens is situated) enacted a Dark Sky Bylaw which requires that all signage be lit from the top down on all signs created after the enactment of the bylaw;
Whereas the Town of Gravenhurst is not seriously enforcing its Dark Sky bylaw, allowing the erection of signs in clear violation of its requirements (including the Town's own sign on Hwy 11!!) and is relying on feeble excuses and exemptions from the District so as not to have to comply;
Whereas once the Dark Night Sky is lost, it is likely lost forever, leaving ourselves and our children with a light polluted nightscape and an irrevocably damaged feature of Muskoka, jeopardizing its uniqueness and viability as a healthy, natural place attractive for tourists and residents;
We accordingly call upon the Town of Gravenhurst to abandon its reckless approach and to strictly enforce its Dark Sky bylaw.
We call upon Gravenhurst to adopt a new and healthier level of thinking, in spirit and in practice, to ensure all development and signage protects the Dark Sky.
We call upon Gravenhurst to respect the Dark Sky as a special natural feature of Muskoka and to ensure our children inherit a Muskoka just as special.
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