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Ottawa declares hundreds of lighthouses 'surplus'

Nearly 1,000 lighthouses, including iconic ones at Cape Spear and Peggy's Cove, N.S., have been declared surplus property by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

That designation means they could be replaced with simpler structures, the department's website says.

"The Canadian Coast Guard undertook a detailed assessment of all the lighthouses it operates. The structures identified to be surplus under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act were those where Canadian Coast Guard officials have determined that they could be replaced with simpler structures whose operation and maintenance would be more cost-effective."

The lighthouse in Cape Spear has been declared surplus property by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Telegram file photo

Halifax -

Nearly 1,000 lighthouses, including iconic ones at Cape Spear and Peggy's Cove, N.S., have been declared surplus property by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

That designation means they could be replaced with simpler structures, the department's website says.

"The Canadian Coast Guard undertook a detailed assessment of all the lighthouses it operates. The structures identified to be surplus under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act were those where Canadian Coast Guard officials have determined that they could be replaced with simpler structures whose operation and maintenance would be more cost-effective."

Just last year, Ottawa announced it would spend $25,000 for repairs and a new coat of paint on the Peggy's Cove lighthouse. Like many of the lighthouses on the list, the Peggy's Cove navigational aid is a major tourism draw, and tourists weren't happy about its condition.

In a seeming acknowledgment of the heritage value of such structures, the department says individuals, municipalities or community-based non-profit groups can seek heritage designation for lighthouses.

Such organizations can do this by forwarding a petition to the minister responsible for Parks Canada, within two years after the coming into force of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

Although all petitions for surplus lighthouses will be evaluated by Parks Canada, a written commitment to acquire and protect a surplus lighthouse must be received in order for it to be eligible for designation, the department says.

If heritage designation is granted, the department says, lighthouses could be used for such purposes as a restaurant or museum in order to generate revenue to cover maintenance costs.

DFO says inactive lighthouses that are no longer part of Canada's aids to navigation system have also been identified as surplus under the act.

The department says while none of the surplus lighthouses are staffed by lightkeepers: "It should be clear that while still active lighthouse structures can be transferred to the public, the actual navigational light will not be transferred and will remain the property of the department with the Canadian Coast Guard ensuring its continued operation."

Should the lighthouse contain a navigation aid that will remain operational, the new owner would be required to maintain and operate the aid or provide access to the site, DFO says.

DFO says it will not be doing any repairs prior to transferring surplus lighthouses to private organizations, but it may consider applications on a case-by-case basis for minor site and building improvements during the transfer process.

The list of active lighthouses that have been declared surplus can be found online at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/media/infocus-alaune/2010/02/lighthouse-phare-active-eng.htm

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Coast Guard, Parks Canada

Geographic location: Ottawa, Halifax, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Leah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Save money by closing lighthouses ???
    All of a sudden they're concerned about saving money !!! Lighthouses are part of our history and heritage. They have prevented ships from wrecking or becoming grounded, and saved
    numerous lives. They are also a wonderful tourist attraction, especially Cape Spear, NL, and Peggy's Cove, N.S., which brings work and income to local residents.
    My God, if this wasn't so upsetting
    and maddening, it'd be laughable.
    Save money by closing lighthouses....!!!

  • love for Nl.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Money for the G-20 has to come from somewhere!,That's the Alliance-Conservative Gov't for you!

  • Old Man Winter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    This is definitely petition-worthy. There isn't a hell of a lot to do around metro and were about to lose one of the greatest spots nearby. Just like motion in Torbay. St. John's is becoming the city of condos and is swiftly losing the title of City of Legends.

  • Wayne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Please folks...clue in here! The historic lighthouse in Cape Spear has not been operational for many decades. It is part of a national historic park and is open to visitors daily. The one they are getting rid of is a 20th century lighthouse of no historic significance.

  • Carla
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    This is very sad to hear. I have been to lighthouses in NL, NB, and NS and I know it was a treat to show my son, and it will be part of our memory. These lighthouses should be cared for the next generation. They are a marvel of history and tradition.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I know most people are saying that the lighthouse at Cape Spear is not the real meal deal... But it DOES represent what was there and it is a very meaningful symbol.

  • Old Man Winter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    To Wayne: Oh, I believe that we are adequately clued in. The point I'm making, along with others I'm sure is that this lighthouse is part of Cape Spear and we don't want to see it removed. Also, if you're this confident with your opinion of which lighthouse will be replaced why not leave a link for reference to back it up.

  • Sea-Dog
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Leave the lighthouses alone, if we got the money for fake lakes we should be able to handle a few lighthouses. Im beginning to wonder just what kind of federal politicians we have in Ottawa anyway, oh now i remember BLOODY USELESS !

  • Peter
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Please please please don't get rid of Cape Spear lighthouse! I lived in St.John's in the early 80's and Cape Spear was, along with Signal Hill (Cabot Tower), the main attractions among tourists. I guess it still is. I visit both places every time I come to NFLD, and I would really like to do so in the future too. If I had the means to do so, I would buy it, maintain it and live there! (always been a dream of mine to live in a lighthouse...). Here in Sweden there is a foundation set up for the preservation and maintenance of old 'surplus' lighthouses. Is there no such thing in Canada?

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Unlike some of the crap being considered heritage markers in the downtown areas of St. John's, these lighthouses actually do portray to tourists some of the heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Nova Scotia. There should be some effort made to keep these as part of the tourist industry.

  • John
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Wayne, you are absolutely correct. the lighthouse they are getting rid of is the modern one, that is currently in use. The historical lighthouse, that you can go into, and walk around is part of the park, and will remain unchanged. I think if they remove the current lighthouse it will improve the site, it will look more like it did back in the day. Get rid of the one with the foghorn and wires etc.

  • Wayne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    The new lighthouse at Cape Spear is not the tourist attraction. This is a poor bit of reporting. The old lighthouse has been turned into a museum/tourist attraction for years and is park of the national park. It would not make the slightest difference if the one pictured here were demolished or removed

  • Joanne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Wayne, you're wrong.

  • No Fan of Harper
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Another attack on the provinces that didn't back his government. And a good attack too! I WILL NEVER vote Conservative ever again if this action is taken.

    How can they say that these lighthouses are surplus ? They are the heritage of our children and grandchildren.

    DA!% you Stephen Harper and your cultureless prairie upbringing.

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Simple solution for Cape Spear: Talk Harper into hosting a G8 meeting there and the Feds will use some of the Billion Dollar security fund to build new ones or at the very least, a 2 million dollar fake one at the Delta.

  • Todd
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    There must be some value is being the most easterly point in North America. Let's see how Shannie and her cronies react to this little piece of heritage. At the very least the Province should step in and buy the light house in Cape Spear (they'd probably get it for a dollar) and keep maintaining is as a Provincial Park.

  • Leah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Save money by closing lighthouses ???
    All of a sudden they're concerned about saving money !!! Lighthouses are part of our history and heritage. They have prevented ships from wrecking or becoming grounded, and saved
    numerous lives. They are also a wonderful tourist attraction, especially Cape Spear, NL, and Peggy's Cove, N.S., which brings work and income to local residents.
    My God, if this wasn't so upsetting
    and maddening, it'd be laughable.
    Save money by closing lighthouses....!!!

  • love for Nl.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Money for the G-20 has to come from somewhere!,That's the Alliance-Conservative Gov't for you!

  • Old Man Winter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    This is definitely petition-worthy. There isn't a hell of a lot to do around metro and were about to lose one of the greatest spots nearby. Just like motion in Torbay. St. John's is becoming the city of condos and is swiftly losing the title of City of Legends.

  • Wayne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Please folks...clue in here! The historic lighthouse in Cape Spear has not been operational for many decades. It is part of a national historic park and is open to visitors daily. The one they are getting rid of is a 20th century lighthouse of no historic significance.

  • Carla
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    This is very sad to hear. I have been to lighthouses in NL, NB, and NS and I know it was a treat to show my son, and it will be part of our memory. These lighthouses should be cared for the next generation. They are a marvel of history and tradition.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    I know most people are saying that the lighthouse at Cape Spear is not the real meal deal... But it DOES represent what was there and it is a very meaningful symbol.

  • Old Man Winter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    To Wayne: Oh, I believe that we are adequately clued in. The point I'm making, along with others I'm sure is that this lighthouse is part of Cape Spear and we don't want to see it removed. Also, if you're this confident with your opinion of which lighthouse will be replaced why not leave a link for reference to back it up.

  • Sea-Dog
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Leave the lighthouses alone, if we got the money for fake lakes we should be able to handle a few lighthouses. Im beginning to wonder just what kind of federal politicians we have in Ottawa anyway, oh now i remember BLOODY USELESS !

  • Peter
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Please please please don't get rid of Cape Spear lighthouse! I lived in St.John's in the early 80's and Cape Spear was, along with Signal Hill (Cabot Tower), the main attractions among tourists. I guess it still is. I visit both places every time I come to NFLD, and I would really like to do so in the future too. If I had the means to do so, I would buy it, maintain it and live there! (always been a dream of mine to live in a lighthouse...). Here in Sweden there is a foundation set up for the preservation and maintenance of old 'surplus' lighthouses. Is there no such thing in Canada?

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Unlike some of the crap being considered heritage markers in the downtown areas of St. John's, these lighthouses actually do portray to tourists some of the heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Nova Scotia. There should be some effort made to keep these as part of the tourist industry.

  • John
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Wayne, you are absolutely correct. the lighthouse they are getting rid of is the modern one, that is currently in use. The historical lighthouse, that you can go into, and walk around is part of the park, and will remain unchanged. I think if they remove the current lighthouse it will improve the site, it will look more like it did back in the day. Get rid of the one with the foghorn and wires etc.

  • Wayne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    The new lighthouse at Cape Spear is not the tourist attraction. This is a poor bit of reporting. The old lighthouse has been turned into a museum/tourist attraction for years and is park of the national park. It would not make the slightest difference if the one pictured here were demolished or removed

  • Joanne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Wayne, you're wrong.

  • No Fan of Harper
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Another attack on the provinces that didn't back his government. And a good attack too! I WILL NEVER vote Conservative ever again if this action is taken.

    How can they say that these lighthouses are surplus ? They are the heritage of our children and grandchildren.

    DA!% you Stephen Harper and your cultureless prairie upbringing.

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Simple solution for Cape Spear: Talk Harper into hosting a G8 meeting there and the Feds will use some of the Billion Dollar security fund to build new ones or at the very least, a 2 million dollar fake one at the Delta.

  • Todd
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    There must be some value is being the most easterly point in North America. Let's see how Shannie and her cronies react to this little piece of heritage. At the very least the Province should step in and buy the light house in Cape Spear (they'd probably get it for a dollar) and keep maintaining is as a Provincial Park.