Solar stars on Bloor Street West

Every night the bulb-laced trees on Bloor Street West cast light on passersby. Starting this December, that light is going to be a little greener.

This month the Bloor West Village BIA, in conjunction with the Toronto Economic Development Office, is putting in solar panels to help with the cost of lighting up the night. The panels, to be located on poles near the trees, will power two to three strings of LED lights each.

One panel is already being used due to a trial-run this summer. The rest will be in place by the second week of December and will power all of the tree lights.

The solar panels are the idea of Alex Ling, Director of the Bloor West BIA. “Some of the old (power) wires had deteriorated,” Ling said. “It was expensive to dig them up and fix them.”

After spending time visiting in Florida, where panel use is more prevalent, Ling came back with the idea of using solar energy to power the lights. The cost of the panels is under $300,000 and payment is split evenly between the BIA and the city.

GreenTbiz, an environmental arm of the Toronto Association of BIAs is also involved with getting the panels built in this neighbourhood and, possibly, in other Toronto areas.

According to Chantal Brundage, Program Magager at greenTbiz, this is the first time in Canada that solar panels have been used for decorative lighting.

“This is the first BIA installing the panels, “ Brundage said. “If it goes well, we will of course look into other areas (of the city).”

The use of solar panels was not possible until the advent of LED lights, which use 95% less power than regular decorative lights. During the day the solar energy will be collected in a battery and released at night to power the lights.
“We’re very proud of our community,” Ling said. “We were the first BIA and we’re happy to have the solar panels.”

The lights will be on every night throughout the year along Bloor Street from Glendonwynne Road to Jane Street.

Filed from The Centre for Creative Communications