City of Calgary flips a switch on tardy repairs to streetlights

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Calgary flips switch on streetlight repair wait times
WATCH: The City of Calgary has flipped the switch on growing wait times to repair streetlights. A waiting list of over 5,200 in November 2022 has been whittled down to under 500. Doug Vaessen reports – May 23, 2024

In the Calgary community of Southwood, a string of streetlights went dark and it took weeks for the message to get through: repairs are needed.

Resident Jenn Kirkup says kids were put at risk.

“Through the school zones especially, as soon as it starts to get dark there is no light for the kids when they are outside, and a lot of kids are out now when it’s nicer.”

Becky Poschman says it was about a one-kilometre stretch of community park and playgrounds that were rendered unsafe.

“There has been a string of lights that seem to remain in the dark throughout that time,” Poschman said.

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“While walking my dog, especially in the wintertime, it does become a challenge and a safety concern because we can’t see the ice that might be piling up.”

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An audit by the City of Calgary that began in November 2022 revealed a high priority call, like that in Southwood, was supposed to take about 14 days. The reality was the average wait time was 77 days.

Troy McLeod, director of mobility with the City of Calgary, says a change in contractors and a good old fashioned winter contributed to growing waiting lists for repairs.

“We had a very severe winter and we get a lot of freeze-thaw cycles so our underground wires do, from time to time, fail and we have to repair those. We had a number of other challenges with the system itself. We had a supply chain challenge.”

But the streetlight team got to work, hired extra help and the problem has been solved.

“Now we are down to 10-day response time, less than 500 outages — where there were over 5,000 outages at one point. So we are thankful for the process we had and also the team we have that responds to streetlights in our city.”

McLeod says it’s a big job. The city has over 105,000 streetlight luminaires with replacement value at $1.9 billion. The city can get up to 800 calls a month for repairs.

He says the streetlight success rate is now 99.8 per cent so it’s problem solved. But he adds it is a big safety issue, so anyone seeing a streetlight not working should call 311 or use the city app to put in an address for service.


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