Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lighthouses Deemed Surplus by Federal Government

It was not totally unexpected but the magnitude of the mass disposal of lighthouses across Canada by the Federal government was shocking, 480 lighthouses and 490 aids to navigation, usually beacons on wharves and range lights. Discussions have occurred over the years with the Village of Grand Manan and Fisheries and Oceans about the lighthouses on Grand Manan and the possibility of turning them over to the Village.

The Telegraph Journal ran a story in June about the implications when the press release from Fisheries and Oceans was discovered, The press release was dated May 29 when the Historic Lighthouse Bill came into effect. Passed two years earlier, anyone interested in lighthouses assumed it would be a positive move because originally a budget for the maintenance of the lighthouses would finally be included. However, that money never materialized and a clause was added that allowed the government to dispose of lighthouses deemed historic. The government is giving groups or individuals forming a group two years to apply for any of the surplus lighthouses. Each group must present a business plan. The aids to navigation (i.e. the light and fog horns) will be maintained by the government but they do not plan to perform any maintenance on the buildings that house these aids, literally letting them crumble. If no one comes forward to take over the surplus structures, the government will retain ownership, replacing structures that are deemed unsafe with skeleton towers, metal frames that can support the light and fog horn. See the Fisheries and Oceans website for more details about the surplus lighthouses:

On Grand Manan we have five lighthouses deemed surplus, Swallowtail, Long Eddy Point, Southwest Head, all on Grand Manan, Long Point on White Head Island and Great Duck Island. It will be interesting to see what will happen. Swallowtail Keepers Society will certainly be keeping abreast of the regulations and will do everything possible to prevent lighthouses from being abandoned.

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