Nfld. & Labrador

'It's unbelievably awful': Outer Battery residents want city to crack down on bright lights

Some people living in the Outer Battery area of St. John's say their quality of life is being seriously disrupted due to a series of intense lights shining onto people’s properties. Christina Smith and Judith Adler, two of the Battery's residents, say the City of St. John's is doing nothing to solve the issue.

RNC accusing one resident of shining security lights towards neighbouring properties

A woman wearing glasses and a black winter coat talks into a microphone beside a woman wearing a brown winter coat.
Judith Adler, left, and Christina Smith say a series of bright lights shining into people's properties in the Outer Battery are harming residents' quality of life. They say the City of St. John's has done nothing to solve the prbblem. (Katie Breen/CBC)

It's a picturesque and historic neighbourhood near downtown St. John's, filled with colourful homes scattered along the entrance to the city's scenic harbour. It's a Newfoundland landmark, and a place many have called home for years.

But some long-term residents of the Outer Battery say their quality of life in the community is being seriously disrupted, after one resident installed a series of intense lights shining onto people's properties.

It's become so bad that Christina Smith, a resident of the Outer Battery, has launched a petition to stop the lights' constant glare.

"It's unbelievably awful to have to live with," said Smith. "And the fact that the city has done nothing is really egregious."

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary laid charges against Outer Batter resident Colin Way in October, accusing him of extortion and mischief. His lawyer, Bob Buckingham, told AllNewfoundlandLabrador the mischief charge was related to his "security lighting."

A bright light is attached to the side of a home with wooden panels.
Smith says the lights are 20,000 lumens each, about 20 times that of an average security light. The lights are interfering with people’s sleep, says Smith, as well as their health and overall quality of life. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Smith says a series of incredibly bright lights have been shining into people's homes in the Outer Battery for the past seven months — and continue to do so despite the criminal charges. She says the lights are 20,000 lumens each, about 20 times more than the average security light.

The lights are interfering with people's sleep, says Smith, as well as their health and overall quality of life.

Judith Adler, who has been living in the Battery since 1973, says the lights are tantamount to harassment and make it difficult to enjoy living in what she calls a wonderful place.

"What's happened out here is cruel," said Adler. "That's what one of my neighbours said, whose husband was dying and begging for the lights to be turned off … and they weren't turned off."

Residents say City of St. John's needs to act

A series of colourful homes stand on the side of a hill.
The Battery is a picturesque and historic neighbourhood in downtown St. John’s. The fact that the city claims it can do nothing to remove the lights is also causing residents harm, said Adler. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Smith and Adler say the City of St. John's has so far done nothing to address the bright lights shining in the neighbourhood. 

Smith says the city told her no bylaws were being broken and it couldn't regulate the lights under the City of St. John's Act.

The fact that the city claims it can do nothing, said Adler, is also causing residents harm.

"The thing that has struck me and a number of other people is the slowness with which our city has been able to address a problem," said Adler. "The city has to help neighbours address a serious problem."

A sign in a window reads, "Help us turn off the lights."
A window sign at a home in the St. John's Battery asks the community for help in getting the lights removed. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Adler wants the city to implement bylaws addressing light trespass and light pollution. She says her family doctor told her nobody should have such high-intensity lights shining into their bedroom windows.

The online petition says exposure to bright light is "known to disrupt the circadian rhythm, which in turn can cause insomnia, disease and can also accelerate tumour growth." The petition also says that more than 20 complaints have been made to the city about the lights since January. 

For Adler, the only way to solve the issue is if people stand up about the ongoing harm it's causing the community.

"It gets put to rest by people taking action and taking care of each other," said Adler.

Way is due in traffic court on Jan. 10 for a trial on three charges, including "unlawfully parking so as to obstruct traffic." He's due in criminal court on Jan. 13 for a status update.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen and Anthony Germain


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?