Victoria is developing strategies so that accent lighting planned for the new Johnson Street Bridge doesn’t affect the fish below, says project director Jonathan Huggett.
The new bridge will not be painted blue like the one it is replacing but will take on a blue hue in the evening with the use of accent lighting.
The issue of lighting was raised by Coun. Jeremy Loveday during a the latest bridge construction update.
He noted that lights installed on other bridges that shine downward into the water make the salmon easier prey for seals.
Potential impacts of the lighting are being studied, Huggett said. He pointed out that there is already significant light pollution in the area. Further, he said, studies by U.S. Fish and Wildlife on Cedar Creek in Washington state found that moonlight can also have an effect and is clearly something that cannot be controlled, he said
Possibilities include either turning off the bridge lights during critical periods or installing shields that might reflect the light, Huggett said.
Huggett said he is in constant contact with federal fisheries officials about the project at any rate and that there are several factors at play.
“Moonlight we cannot do anything about.
“Number two, there is already a significant light pollution in that area.
“Number three is we can turn the lights off at critical times of the year if we work with the Fish and Wildlife people to find out when those times are.
“And then, four is we can put shields in, if necessary, to direct light more upward than downwards,” Huggett said.
The Cedar Creek study found that nighttime lighting can have a strong effect on fish behaviour and increase the vulnerability of fish fry to predation by seals that will wait and watch for the salmon fry.
Loveday stressed the importance of protecting the salmon.
“There’s an incredible community effort to restore the salmon spawning grounds in the Craigflower and Colquitz Creek and I’d hoped we’d been working collaboratively to make sure we don’t set back those efforts in any way.
“We want the bridge to be “beautiful and well lit up to help it achieve that iconic status that was being looked for when this was approved but not at the cost of the spawning salmon so if that means making adjustments during spawning season then that’s what we should do.”