Twenty-eight apply for official designations; feds await business plans
The lighthouse in Cape Race is among those that are not considered surplus by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. — Telegram file photo
While not all petitions expected from Newfoundland and Labrador have been processed, it appears there will be plenty of local lighthouses in the running to receive a heritage designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.
The deadline for petitions came and went Tuesday, with 28 nominations processed as of Wednesday, according to Norman Shields, program manager with Parks Canada’s Heritage Lighthouse Program. He said one or two more petitions may still arrive by mail, noting the program would accept those postmarked on May 29.
“It strikes me that they come from a little bit all over the place,” said Shields. “I think that there is very good coverage there.”
Tuesday marked the end of the two-year petition period. Sixty-nine lighthouses in the province were eligible for petitions. Shields said close to 350 were received from across the country.
“The number of nominations in Canada, and indeed in Newfoundland, really shows that the people of Canada are passionate about protecting and conserving their
heritage places, so we’re very encouraged by that.”
The act aims to help protect the heritage value of the lighthouses with hopes that a continued public purpose for them or new uses may be found.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will now accept business plans relating to the petitioned lighthouses.
At an information session held earlier this year in St. John’s, a variety of potential repurposing options were mentioned for lighthouses, including bed and breakfasts, cottages, restaurants, museums and interpretive sites.
Submit business plans as soon as possible
Of the 28 petitions received, 20 are for surplus lighthouses, while the remaining eight are designated as non-surplus lighthouses. There are 45 surplus lighthouses across the province.
Shields said under the act, surplus lighthouses are those considered to exist beyond the current needs of the federal government.
“I’m making that point because there was a lot of confusion early on about Cape Spear,” said Shields. “For example, the national historic site that belongs to Parks Canada is not surplus, but the Cape Spear lighthouse below it is surplus.”
As of mid-February, only three petitions had been submitted from the province. Earlier this month, the Newfoundland Historic Trust submitted 18 petitions for lighthouses. The petitions were made in concert with the provincial government. Shields said municipalities and community groups also submitted petitions.
The minister responsible for Parks Canada must decide which lighthouses will receive a heritage designation by May 29, 2015.
For surplus lighthouses, Shields encourages interested parties to submit business plans to DFO “as soon as possible,” adding such sites will only receive heritage designations if a group shows interest in looking after it for the forseeable future.
A guide for preparing a business plan to acquire a surplus lighthouse can be found on the DFO website.
Surplus lighthouses for which petitions were not submitted will remain in the federal inventory, according to Shields.