August 18, 2020, Simcoe – Seventy metric tons. That’s the amount by which the city will reduce greenhouse gas emissions as it throws the switch on a plan to convert its network of street lights to LED technology.

The promised reduction in emissions is equivalent to the greenhouse gases “stored in 80 acres of forest or the energy required to charge almost nine million cellphones,” said Renee Recoskie, manager, property and environmental sustainability.

The project was approved as part of the city’s 2020 capital budget at a cost of $2.4 million.

Upgrading approximately 3,300 street light fixtures to LED technology is expected to save roughly 40 per cent on lighting costs and trim the city’s annual street light energy consumption by more than 70 per cent.

Stan Mathewson, chair of Sustainable Orillia, views the measure as a positive step in helping address climate change — a cause to which the local task force has dedicated itself.

“Of course, we will encourage them to continue to do more, but we are fully supportive,” Mathewson told “It is absolutely in the right direction.”

Included in the coming upgrades are so-called “smart” lighting controls that will enable the city to monitor its streetlight network remotely to identify outages, while also allowing for fixtures to be dimmed and lighting levels adjusted.

These measures will help reduce energy, maintenance costs and light pollution, as well as ensure the network can adapt to accommodate future technological advancements.

LED lighting — LED is an acronym for light emitting diode — produces light more efficiently than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

“Moving to LED street lighting with smart control technology will not only reduce the city’s environmental footprint, but will also reduce costs and enhance lighting quality,” Mayor Steve Clarke said.

The upgrades will take place between August and September, with the work carried out by the city’s project team, including RealTerm Energy and TM3 Inc.

Impacts on traffic and the public are expected to be minimal, the city said.

Mathewson said Sustainable Orillia was working to sign a memorandum of understanding with the municipality, outlining steps the city and task force can take individually, and together, to address climate change.

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