What to do with Cape Spear's (other) lighthouse

James
James McLeod
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Heritage

Siobhan Coady looks up at the Cape Spear lighthouse, and says, "Now, why would you want to put a For Sale sign on that?"

Speaking with The Telegram at the most easterly point in North America, Coady, the MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, asked an even more fundamental question: "How do you go about selling off a lighthouse in the middle of a national historic site, anyway?"

St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Siobhan Coady is trying to find out why the lighthouse at Cape Spear is being sold. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Siobhan Coady looks up at the Cape Spear lighthouse, and says, "Now, why would you want to put a For Sale sign on that?"

Speaking with The Telegram at the most easterly point in North America, Coady, the MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, asked an even more fundamental question: "How do you go about selling off a lighthouse in the middle of a national historic site, anyway?"

"When you seek to have a community group or private citizen take this over, what happens down the road? What happens to the environmental issues that may be around this particular area?" Coady said.

"What happens down the road if there are challenges and it falls into disrepair?"

The federal government ann-ounced in May it will be selling off more than a thousand "surplus" lighthouses across Canada, including some recognizable symbols.

The Peggy's Cove lighthouse, in Nova Scotia, and the Cape Spear lighthouse - the newer one - are both on the list.

"Yes, I know this one was built in 1955, we're not talking about the one that was built in the 1800s, but it's still a historic structure," Coady said. "It's part of the park"

On the last day before the House of Commons summer break, Coady brought the issue up in question period, but Environment Minister Jim Prentice chose not to address the issue, instead he talked about two national parks which the Conservative government has created.

Coady said she's worried if some private citizen buys the lighthouse, they could choose to paint it black and put a skull and cross bones on it.

That seems unlikely. The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act says if a lighthouse is deemed to be a heritage structure, the minister can put conditions on selling the building, which would force the new owner to maintain the heritage character of the structure.

For the building to get a heritage designation, 25 people have to sign a petition and send it to the federal minister, who will then decide whether or not to grant the designation.

The Conservative government has said people who buy the surplus lighthouses could turn them into restaurants, or bed and breakfasts. However, since the only thing the government is selling is the lighthouse tower itself - and not the surrounding utility buildings - there isn't a lot of space to work with.

Coady said all of these issues need to be discussed, but she's not getting any answers.

"They've done the research, they're just not being - in my opinion - very forthcoming with that information," she said. "Let's have a dialogue as to why you're doing this. Let's have a dialogue as to what we can do as a community."

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Organizations: House of Commons, The Heritage

Geographic location: North America, Canada, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • James
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    If you visit MP Coady's Facebook page created for this issue you will note that the historical writeup she provides (actually Parks Canada) provides a background from the mid 1850's to the end of WW2. br br The lighthouse in question was built in 1955, after the period she provides as background. My sense is she misunderstood which structure was being abandoned by the federal government. A simple retraction is all that is really necessary here.

  • Louise
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Its great that people are supportive of Cape Spear. But these are the same people who won't pay $3.50 to tour the historic lighthouse and support the site. Little hypocritical I think.

  • John Smith
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    With everything going on in this province this is the windmill Coady wants to tilt at??If it wasn't for premier williams not one of these (people) would have ever got a look in. She is not talking about the fishery, or the lower churchill, nope, it's the stupid metal 1950s lighthouse, give me a break. Not only do we have to put up with only 7 seats here, but we also have to put up with morons filling those seats.

  • Michael
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Yea, here is a topic I couldn't care less about... come on folks, tear it down if it serves no purpose. The sale of the structure would be far more hassle than it's demolition.

  • John
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    James and knight are right on the mark. She was on with Randy Simms one morning, all alarmed about the lighthouse, untill Randy told her it was the newer rusty crappy eyesore of a lighthouse. It was hilarious, I had tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard.

  • Mark D
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I guess all of the unemployment problems in St. John's have been fixed and everyone is working. br br Now we can focus our attention on things that really do not matter, just like Mrs. Coady has done. br br The woman is shallow. plain and simple.

  • McManus
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I do not think that this 55 year old metal structure is a reason why tourists would go to the easternmost point of land in Canada. Not by a long shot. If the feds were threatening to sell the Cantwell lighthouse, the one that everyone identifies with Cape Spear, then I think Coady would have a legitimate gripe.

    But on this one, no, this is just making political hay. Please show us one job or dollar of funding this MP has brought to our district because I don't think she has done anything so far.

  • Joanne
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    This equals Kathy Dunderdale's stupidity on the bankrupt german company wanting to buy the mill in Grand Falls.

  • Newfoundland
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    This is nothing but a smoke screen to cover her butt. She started this crusade thinking that the older lighthouse was in danger of being sold. Myself and others contacted her and stated that was not the case, but she went on start a facebook group Save the Cape Spear Lighthouse to confuse others and generally do with the issue what Liberals, NDP'ers and Cons always do. So now that she realizes that the Cantwell's lighthouse is safe, she is trying to wiggle out of of the whole thing. Is Hiedi Fry helping this women?

  • George
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    It's not very old, of little architectural or historical significance. Tear it down.