Report to/Rapport au:

Health, Recreation and Social Services Committee

Comité de la santé, des loisirs et des services sociaux


and Council/et au Conseil


11 June 2003 / 11 juin 2003


Submitted by/Soumis par:  Jocelyne St Jean, General Manager/Directrice générale

People Services Department/Services aux citoyens


Contact/Personne-ressource:  Colleen Hendrick, Director

Innovation, Development and Partnerships

Directrice, Innovation, développement et partenariats

580-2424 Ext. 24366, E-mail




Ref N°:   ACS2003-PEO-IDP-0011










That the Health, Recreation and Social Services Committee recommend Council approve the Park Pathway Lighting Policy (Annex A).





Que le Comité de la santé, des loisirs et des services sociaux recommande au Conseil d’approuver la politique sur l’éclairage des sentiers dans les parcs (annexe A).





Park pathway lighting is an enhanced level of service that is provided in some City parks.  Requests are traditionally considered on an individual basis.  The degree to which pathways are lit, the types of pathway users and uses that need lighting, and the minimum requirements needed to accommodate lit pathway systems significantly varied between the former municipalities.  This report presents a park pathway lighting policy that will provide residents, Councilors and staff with a consistent policy for responding to requests for park pathway lighting.  Given that the City has 800+ parks, it is not feasible to consider lighting all pathways in parks, hence the need for a policy that will provide direction in this area.


Park pathway lighting can:


·                    improve the look, feel and character of a park

·                    enhance the pedestrian environment

·                    promote public opportunities for the use and enjoyment of City lands

·                    communicate that the park and pathways are “open for business”

·                    provide a greater sense of security for park users.


The goal of this policy is to provide the City with the means to identify the needs and conditions required to implement new lighting projects in City parks.





It is recommended that pathway lighting projects be implemented only where users can have a reasonable expectation of safety when accessing park land and facilities.  Prior to any new implementation, a ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ (CPTED) audit is to be performed by City staff as well as an assessment of the impact of the new lighting on extended use of existing facilities plus neighbour / light trespass impacts.  This recommendation is made with the understanding that as other policies are developed (i.e.: consolidated parks by-law, RPAM efficiency / cost saving procedures for hydro usage, etc.) an analysis for new lighting projects should also be considered. 


Historically, pathway lighting has been perceived as an added safety measure for pedestrians and cyclists in dark areas and has also been used in attempts to disperse individuals from congregating in areas that are dark and difficult to access at night.  Pathway lighting has also been associated with those pathways that are maintained in the winter.  Unfortunately, such assumptions, without a thorough understanding of the environment, can place the pathway user in a more dangerous situation than had they kept to lit roads and sidewalks.  Lighting in City parks where there is little or no witness potential, where escape routes or options are limited, or where hidden pockets of criminal activity can occur, can create a more serious problem than what we intended to reduce or eliminate. 


Pathway lighting implemented without careful consideration of existing park environment, programs and facilities, has shown to actually cause problems between parks and their neighbours.  For example, light trespass or spill from park lighting fixtures can inadvertently provide sufficient light for a typical and safe daytime activity such as basketball to now be played throughout the evening and night; but these lights may disturb residents whose bedroom windows face the park.


When determining the appropriateness of implementing new pathway lighting projects in City parks, staff will consult with park users and evaluate the effectiveness, feasibility and impact of the proposed project on park program elements, pathway users and park neighbours.


The Park Pathway Lighting policy also includes a summary of requirements for park pathway lighting for new installations.  This will ensure that adequate lighting levels and standards are provided for pathway users.  New installations are to be designed to improve pedestrian safety and reduce opportunities for vandalism and crime.  New installations will be developed at a pedestrian scale that is appropriate to a traditional City park environment.


Staff will use this policy framework to review requests and determine priorities for park pathway lighting.





This policy applies to all parks throughout the city.





The draft policy was presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee on

March 25, 2003. TUPW, Corporate Services (RPAM) and Development Services also reviewed the policy.  A public consultation session was also held at the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre on May 21, 2003.





Funds in the amount of $100,000 are available in the approved 2003 capital budget for this purpose.





Annex A: Park Pathway Lighting Policy





People Services staff will implement the decisions of Council.

Annex A:

Park Pathway Lighting Policy


Policy Statement

It is the policy of the City of Ottawa to light park pathway systems where community and program needs require pathway usage in the evening and pathway users can be assured of a reasonable expectation of safety.



This policy outlines the City’s process for the implementation of new pathway lighting projects in existing parks and open spaces.


In general, it is understood that park pathway lighting, can:


·        improve the look, feel and character of a park

·        enhance the pedestrian environment

·        promote public opportunities for the use and enjoyment of City lands

·        communicate that the park and pathways are “open for business”

·        provide a greater sense of security for park users


The goal of this policy is:


  1. establish criteria for the approval of new requests for pathway lighting in existing parks and,


  1. define an implementation approach for new projects that includes characteristics of park lighting and a description of the assignment of project implementation priorities


The City’s primary objective for park pathway lighting is to reduce the risks associated with evening use of park areas and to improve access through our communities where a reasonable expectation of safety can be achieved.


Lighting projects are to be implemented where the design of the park permits evening use of pathways and where the security of the pathway user can be reasonably ensured.


Pathway lighting is not intended to replace safer alternative evening routes such as local roads and sidewalks.  In those locations where park pathways are used extensively to commute to and from park and recreation facilities, transit and shopping, etc., lit park pathways should be constructed and maintained at a standard sufficient to ensure a reasonable expectation of safety.


Park pathway lighting used in isolation of other security measures is not a reasonable solution in high crime / problem areas.


Park pathway lighting does promote evening use of park facilities.  Lighting should only be installed where the evening use of park facilities does not conflict with adjacent uses or applicable by-laws.


Park pathway lighting should be developed to a standard, look and scale of a pedestrian environment.  City owned park pathway lighting will be noticeably different from street and road rights-of-way lighting for vehicles.


Policy Description

There are 3 main components to this policy: 


1)      Characteristics of Park Pathway Lighting, which shall apply City-wide;

2)      Evaluation Criteria that are to be applied by staff and which are to provide guidance to Development Services staff; and,

3)      Development of Project Implementation Priorities which staff will use to determine which projects can proceed, depending on the availability of funds.

Characteristics of Park Pathway Lighting


The following design principles were developed in consultation with staff having operations expertise, design and construction expertise, feedback from local police and a review of available literature. 


Specific design criteria for fixture / pole manufacturer, colour, design, etc., are the responsibility of Real Property and Asset Management Design and Construction Branch and Transportation, Utilities and Public Works to review proposed selections for maintenance, and to make recommendations if necessary.


The following identifies the characteristics for the new installations that are approved through the Park Pathway Lighting Policy:


1)      Light Source:  An appropriate light source will be selected to address the needs of each specific park pathway lighting installation.  There are different factors to be evaluated when selecting between High Pressure Sodium, Metal Halide and other types of light sources as each park pathway system can have different requirements depending on need for visibility, glare reduction, landscape and architectural aesthetics, colour rendition, efficient operation and differentiation from road corridors. 


2)      Photometrics: The quality and quantity of light will meet the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) standards for park pathways.  Specifically, the light source will be of sufficient design to ensure a minimum 5-LUX coverage along the entire length of the pathway and a uniformity level ratio of 5:1.  All park pathway lighting projects, especially those where the park pathway is in proximity to adjacent residential properties, are to use light fixtures that employ curvilinear cut-off lenses.


3)      Pole Type and Location:  Wherever possible, and where park design permits, light poles are to be placed 1.5 metres off the edge of the pathway.  In order to ensure vandal resistance, product longevity and a uniform look City-wide, poles are to be constructed of durable materials and have very little flexibility when pushed by hand.  All poles will be dark natural colours to blend in with the landscape and will be finished in a way that provides sufficient protection from graffiti.  Poles will be of a design that can withstand the maintenance requirements encountered in City parks. 


4)      Power Supply: When feasible, a City-owned, secondary power supply or service is recommended.  A park electrical power kiosk will be located on parkland in close proximity to the lit pathway.  These kiosks are to include an independent power supply shut-off switch accessible by City staff or crews, a timer to regulate on and off times, and provide additional electrical distribution and receptacles as necessary for park program needs. 


5)      Park Site Design Requirements:  Where new pathway lighting is to be installed, a minimum 2-meter width (2.4 – 3.0 meter when winter maintained), hard surfaced path with wheelchair accessible slopes is recommended.  Applications may vary since it is not the intention of this policy to replace existing pathway systems that are in satisfactory condition but do not have sufficient width. 


Evaluation Criteria


City staff will consider the impacts on park programming, facilities, budget and neighbours.   The majority of the criteria are related to risk management and safety for the evening use of City parks – our degree of risk can require the installation of lights and it may also mean that no lights are ever installed.


In order to determine the appropriateness of implementing new pathway lighting projects in existing City parks, the following evaluation criteria will be used.  These criteria will be used to determine the feasibility and need for new park pathway lighting.


1)      Safety of Users: Staff will perform a CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) audit of the park to confirm the viability of keeping the park pathways accessible for evening use.  The elements of the audit include: availability of the public to supervise pathway users, availability of reasonable and safe alternative routes, identification of entrapment spots, analysis of crime statistics (if available) for the area in question, interviews with local community policing officers, park users and park neighbours.


2)      Analysis of Park Facilities: Staff will evaluate the vulnerable park program elements, their location in the park, and analysis of the effects of new lighting on these facilities and / or park elements.   Staff will ensure that they do not inadvertently light up facilities that shouldn’t be lit (i.e. basketball courts) and ensure that the requested lighting project is necessary in comparison to design alternatives.  Pathway lighting to / from and around a play area is often sought as a solution when relocation of the play area to an enforceable or more visible location would be a more practical solution.  Vulnerable park elements are best situated in areas where opportunities for natural surveillance can occur.


3)      Alternative Transportation Needs: Staff will evaluate the pathway’s role in the movement pattern of the community.  Not all park pathways provide access to roads, facilities and other amenities that are open for evening use.  However pathways in parks that form part of an overall community access to City facilities, transit and shopping, should be lit so long as it is safe to do so.


4)      Impact on Neighbours: An informal impact assessment of the effects of new lights on park neighbours will be conducted.  The addition of new lights into areas that have been traditionally dark and where the park borders residential homes, may adversely impact neighbours.  This policy for park lighting addresses the need to use fixture types that are best suited to reducing light trespass onto adjacent properties. Such installations in close proximity to neighbours are discouraged and require consultation with those who may be impacted by the intrusion of new lights on their property.


5)      Impact on Park Environment:  New lighting projects that require significant change to the natural landscape character of the park are discouraged.  For instance, if with the installation of new lights, significant proportions of woodlots need to be removed in order to provide evening pathway users with the potential of public visibility and clear avenues of escape, such issues are to be identified and discussed with the City Forester and the local community prior to any commitment to proceed. 


6)      Feasibility:  A cost-benefit analysis of a capital construction project for new park pathway lights will be conducted.  Identification of potential sources for metered hydro service is required.  The feasibility of implementing the project if there is not an existing or sufficient hydro service must be analyzed.


7)      User Profile: Pathway lighting generally creates an expectation of safety for the pathway users.  Therefore the physical characteristics of the pathway surfacing, maintenance level, expected user types and the times that the City also expects the users to need lit pathways are to be evaluated.  On / off times for the lighting system is to be confirmed with risk management and operating departments prior to any new installation being approved.


8)      Threat Analysis:  If the proposed pathway lighting project is linked to identified personal security problems for pathway users, a new installation of pathway lights into existing parks cannot occur without the concurrent implementation of additional security devices (such as video cameras) as determined and funded by Corporate Security.  In addition, acceptable measures for enforcement of by-laws and added security patrol to curb potential criminal activity must also be in place. 



Project Implementation Priorities


Staff will maintain a budget envelope for park pathway lighting projects.  New project requests often exceed approved capital budget envelopes and, as a result, a system of priority determination is required.


The following priorities will be used:


First Priority: Projects that meet all evaluation criteria as detailed above and whose projected costs are within the approved capital budget envelope.


Second Priority: Projects that meet at least 4 of the evaluation criteria and are on pathways that receive winter maintenance.  Second priority projects must have a CPTED audit performed and the audit has resulted in a recommendation to install new park pathway lights.


Third Priority:  Projects that meet 3 or fewer of the evaluation criteria, and where a CPTED audit of the park pathway system has determined that new pathway lights may create a false sense of security for pathway users


People Services will maintain a list of new park pathway lighting requests and evaluate these proposed projects annually to determine implementation priorities.



CPTED:  Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Proper design and effective use of the built environment which leads to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crimes of opportunity and an improvement in the quality of life.


Natural Surveillance: a design strategy that is directed at keeping intruders and / or vulnerable assets under observation.  Designing for natural surveillance involves providing ample opportunity for park users, engaged in their normal activities, to observe the space around them.


Witness Potential:  The ability for people to observe and monitor users.  For instance a sidewalk on a busy street has very high witness potential, a pathway in a forest has very low witness potential.


Movement Predictor:  A predictable or unchangeable route or path that offers no choice to pedestrians and other pathway users.


Entrapment Spot: Small confined areas adjacent or near a well travelled route that are shielded on three sides whether they be walls, shrubs or trees.


Uniformity Level Ratio: the average light level of a lighting area design between 2 adjacent luminaires divided by the lowest light level value at any point within the design area.


This policy document will apply to all new park pathway lighting projects that are within existing City of Ottawa parks.