Floodlights shining into homes of quiet Newfoundland neighbourhood suddenly shut off

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Residents of a historic fishing neighbourhood in St. John's are cautiously relieved after a pair of floodlights that had been shining into homes since last May suddenly shut off.

Outer Battery resident Chris Brookes says the lights mounted on a shed owned by Colin Way went off at about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Brookes said in an interview that he and his neighbours have no idea why the lights went off — or if they'll stay off — but he said he nonetheless had a restful sleep in the newfound darkness.

People in the Outer Battery have organized petitions and demonstrations against the lights, saying they interrupt residents' sleep and wreak havoc on their mental health.

Bob Buckingham, Way’s lawyer, said in an email that the lights will stay off unless there is a “new security reason or threat” to his client’s property or person.

Last week, a man was arrested in the neighbourhood for allegedly trying to damage the powerful lights, which were visible from across the city's harbour and from parts of downtown.

Earlier this month, the St. John's city council rejected a motion seeking a "nuisance lighting" bylaw, though a few councillors have urged Way to remove the lights.

Court documents show Way was charged earlier this year with one count of extortion and two counts of mischief by interfering with the use of property.

Buckingham has said that one mischief charge is related to the lights and that the others are related to separate disputes in the same neighbourhood.

Way has declined to comment as the matter is before the courts, though Buckingham said he and his client would comment next week about why the lights were turned off.

The Outer Battery neighbourhood is perched in a cliff face near the entrance to the St. John's harbour, and its colourful homes and fishing stages are often featured in the city's tourism ads.

The neighbourhood's main road leads to the start of a popular hiking trail that climbs around the back of Signal Hill, a national historic site.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press