New 'warmer' lighting coming to brighten dark Edmonton winter sky

More light is coming to Edmonton's downtown under a city pilot program meant to brighten the dark winter months.

Pilot program provides $250,000 in grants for decorative lighting of historic Edmonton buildings

The chamber of commerce will add 'soft' and 'diffused' lighting to the exterior of the building it owns at Jasper Avenue and 100th Street downtown, under a new city program. (Kasian Architecture/Edmonton Chamber of Commerce)

More light is coming to Edmonton's downtown under a city pilot program meant to brighten the dark winter months.

The exterior of the World Trade Centre Edmonton will get new lighting as the first project under Edmonton's creative lighting pilot project

"As a winter city, we do have many, many months of darkness and the more light that we have the more vibrancy and the more joy that it brings to us," said Janet Riopel, president of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, which owns the building.

"It does make people happy. A warm welcoming, inviting sort of a feeling."

The centre on the corner of Jasper Avenue and 100 Street will get a grant of $50,000 from the creative lighting project, which focuses on heritage buildings and is funded to the tune of $250,000.

"We saw an opportunity to boost our lighting, to be more street-friendly with it, to be more pedestrian-friendly with it," Riopel said Friday.

More than 'throwing up some light bulbs'

In the coming months, spotlights will begin lighting up the columns of the trade centre's facade and diffuse down onto the sidewalk.

The lights will be programmable and change colour, allowing the chamber to celebrate different events such as Canada Day and the Pride Parade.

"It's more complex than just throwing up some light bulbs," said Sue Holdsworth, WinterCity coordinator with the City of Edmonton.

"It's about strategic use of lighting and being really mindful of light pollution and how you orient the lights, the technology you use, and the effect you're creating with it," said Holdsworth. "It creates a warmer atmosphere.

"We can actually make our city darker with better lighting and still have more projects like the High Level Bridge (lights) that make our city way more inviting and fun and beautiful in winter time."

The program will provide $50,000 in matching grant money to three projects, with the remainder for smaller projects.