Light it up: Smiths Falls is getting app-controlled, permanent holiday lighting

Daryll Gladden and his son Noah Gladden of Gladden Networks, install LED permanent holiday lighting at the Smiths Falls town hall and bandstand on Feb. 26, 2024. – Laurie Weir photo

Instead of lighting the water tower for special occasions, Smiths Falls’ municipal complex can now be illuminated

All-occasion permanent holiday lighting is being installed at town hall in Smiths Falls, as well as at the bandstand, which will give staff more colours and patterns to choose from for special requests and decoration.

Historically, requests have been received from community groups and organizations to light up the water tower at a cost of $500 per ask. This includes renting a bucket truck to install and remove the light shade. There is also a limitation on the available colours to choose from.

With the water tower aging and the possibility of it being decommissioned, staff prepared a policy for council’s review, which came to the committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 26. The policy will give staff some parameters to process requests to light up municipal assets.

Clerk Kerry Costello, in her report to council, noted that the construction of town square – in particular, the bandstand – gave them an extra opportunity to light up the bandstand and the municipal complex.

“Perimeter lights have been installed on the bandstand and can be programmed for more than 2,000 different colours,” Costello noted. “The municipal complex has had perimeter LED lights installed that can be illuminated in the same number of lighting selections. As the lights are controlled by a smartphone app, staff time is limited to fulfill requests. These lights are permanently affixed to the façade of both facilities and are programmable for timing and duration.”

Requests would still come through the clerk’s office, Costello said. Staff would manage those requests on a first-come, first-served basis. “We would try and work with them if dates overlapped each other, but it is a much swifter process and not as much cost for the municipality.”

Coun. Chris Maguire said he’d like to have a bigger conversation about the holiday lights. “I was really surprised to see Christmas lights on the town hall today,” he said. “I like the idea of saving money and making it more practical. But it’s a designated heritage asset and if these lights are permanently installed that would constitute a modification and I don’t understand what the bigger picture is.”

He said the last term of council talked about projection lighting on the railway bridge, falls and different assets in town, “but we never moved forward with that,” he said. “I just don’t see this as having the same level of place-making potential that division started with. I’m worried we’re going down a path that checks the box but doesn’t actually accomplish what we’re aiming for.”

Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris said the immediate or core purpose of this policy was speaking to lighting assets for a particular cause, “not so much for ambiance. We didn’t talk about methods of lighting something. It was more, what should we light up for those special occasions – to make a statement for particular organizations. But you’ve raised some good points about lighting other assets.”

He suggested getting this policy in place as a starting point so it could “blossom from there” in terms of other assets, methods and purposes.

Mayor Shawn Pankow said it was important to have a policy as requests come in “at least a half dozen times a year.”

The policy was supported by the committee.

PERMANENT HOLIDAY LIGHTING

Doing the work are Daryll and Noah Gladden of Smiths Falls. They are the father/son duo behind Gladden Networks. They were on site earlier Monday afternoon, putting the finishing touches on the town hall.

“We’ve been here since Friday,” Daryll said, digging a trench through frozen ground to hide underground wiring for the permanent holiday lighting.

Noah has only been working with his father through “a solid Christmas season” with plans to continue in the trades to become an electrician.

The LED lights pop into the track — which can be colour customized — and can be changed easily when one blows out, Daryll explained.

The Gladdens have done other work in town, including the Heritage House Museum. Daryll said word of mouth has been their best form of advertising.

People are choosing permanent LED lighting because it’s got so many options: colours, patterns, long-life span, “and well, it’s cool,” Daryll said.

You can also select from over 16 million colours and hundreds of patterns to create the perfect lighting display for any occasion, Daryll said.

The lights have a 20-year lifespan, and Gladden Networks has a five-year warranty on the products.

Some of those “cool” things these lights will do:

  • Control all aspects of this lighting system easily from an app on your phone — iOS and android apps available.
  • Access and control your lighting system from anywhere in the world.  
  • Control all aspects of the lights, including brightness. Dim them, or crank them up if you’re having a party!
  • Have your lights turn on at sunset. Program your favourite holidays. Never worry about turning off your lights again.
  • Each LED uses around 0.3 watts of power at full brightness.
  • Built for Canada:  Tested to withstand harsh Canadian winters. Everything is rated to work down to -40C.
  • All connectors are waterproof.
Gladden Networks (Daryll and son Noah) installs permanent LED holiday lights at town hall in Smiths Falls on Feb. 26, 2024. – Laurie Weir photo

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