Groups Submit Plans to Save 128 of 907 Lighthouses Declared Surplus by Feds

By MacDonald, Michael | The Canadian Press, June 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Groups Submit Plans to Save 128 of 907 Lighthouses Declared Surplus by Feds


MacDonald, Michael, The Canadian Press


Plans submitted to save 128 lighthouses

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HALIFAX - Community groups and municipalities in eight provinces have come forward with business plans to save only a fraction of the lighthouses that Ottawa says are no longer needed for navigational purposes.

In all, 128 plans were submitted by the June 1 deadline, the federal Fisheries Department confirmed Tuesday.

Five years ago, the department declared 970 of its active and inactive lighthouses surplus, saying they were no longer needed as aids to navigation, mainly because mariners now rely on satellite signals to set their courses.

Federal spokesman Andrew Anderson said despite the deadline, the department is willing to accept more business plans over the next two years, insisting that Ottawa isn't about to start demolishing or selling off surplus lighthouses.

"We are acutely aware that some of them can be of tremendous historic importance," Anderson said in an interview from Ottawa.

"If there's a community interested ... in taking a property and leveraging it for economic development in their community, then we certainly will enable that."

Of the 128 plans submitted, there are: 50 from Ontario, 29 from Nova Scotia, 20 from P.E.I., 12 from Quebec, eight from Newfoundland and Labrador, five from New Brunswick, two from Manitoba and two from British Columbia.

Anderson said the 970 figure that appears on the department's website it includes unusual structures that aren't typically thought of as lighthouses, including simple aluminum poles with lights on top.

A more recent inventory has also revealed that some of the lighthouses on the original list have already been destroyed or fallen to ruin, he said.

Last week, the department faced sharp criticism from three conservation groups that said the process of transferring ownership of surplus lighthouses under the federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act was badly flawed.

Barry MacDonald, president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, said the act won't help some of Canada's oldest and largest lighthouses because these structures are too expensive to maintain without government support. …

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