Scarborough residents fight to keep their street in the dark

Queensgrove Road in Scarborough may be the only road left in Toronto where you can look up at the night sky and clearly count the stars.

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However, residents of the 29 households on Queensgrove have been subject to Toronto Hydro’s installation of streetlights without consultation.

Jim Bridger, a 50-year-old firefighter, put together a petition gathering responses from 26 homes on the road. Out of the responses, 24 were against the installation project.

“It started last year in July,” Bridger recounted. “Trucks were moving into the neighbourhood and wires were planted at the back of houses. Toronto Hydro plans to put up five to six street lights on our road.”

Having lived on Queensgrove all his life, Bridger has a strong emotional connection with the small piece of rural-like landscape.

“Toronto Hydro does not have the right to destroy our landscape without taking into account residents’ opinions,” he said.

Bridger planned to lead a group of residents to meet with Toronto Hydro and city councillors on March 22. He also tried reaching Mayor Rob Ford, but never got to talk to him.

Leader in Queensgrove’s petitions, Jim Bridger recounts how residents reacted to Toronto Hydro’s upgrade plans.

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All this originated in 2006, when the city signed an agreement with Toronto Hydro guaranteeing lighting on all city streets.

“I am fairly optimistic that with residents voicing out, we would eventually not have streetlights on our road,” Bridger said.

Working at the Toronto Fire Services, he insists that there is no danger posed for drivers at night because of the many porch lights outside houses.

Christopher Miles, a 44-year-old paramedic living across from Bridger’s house, echoes his views.

“Toronto Hydro is doing something to the neighbourhood without consulting the neighbourhood itself,” he said.

He has lived on Queensgrove for nine years and has signed Bridger’s petition.

“We have the support of our city councillor, Gary Crawford, and we have done everything we could to try to stop Toronto Hydro from going ahead with their plans,” he said.

However, he said the construction project is inevitable.

“People love the feeling they get when they walk on our road at night,” he said. “You feel like you are in the countryside and you can actually see the stars in the sky.”

Christopher Miles has lived on Queensgrove Road for nine years. He describes why the neighbourhood is unique without street lights.

[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/street-lights-christopher-miles.mp3]

Another house owner who has been on Queensgrove for 13 years objected to the disruptions in aesthetics and noise that would accompany the building of overhead wires and streetlights.

“This is a total waste of money in the budget,” said Mary Auchterlonie, a 44-year-old business owner. “They are spending money on a project that does not benefit anyone.”

Fred and Mary Auchterlonie, residents on Queensgrove Road for 13 years, explain why they do not see any purpose to Toronto Hydro’s project in their neighbourhood.

[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/street-lights-fred-and-mary1.mp3]

At the moment, only Warden Avenue at Kingston Road are under reconstruction. The installation project on Queensgrove Road is slated for completion by October.