The Town of Ferryland officially got the keys to their iconic lighthouse Thursday, as part of the federal government’s plant to unload hundreds of “surpluss” lighthouses across the country.
Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said what Ferryland is doing is a perfect example of what Ottawa wants to see happen to old lighthouses which the Canadian Coast Guard no longer needs.
Before speaking to reporters, Ashfield grabbed a bite to eat at Lighthouse Picnics, which has served food to visitors of Ferryland Head since 2003 and operates within the lighthouse structure.
“They’re an opportunity for people to generate economic activity within local communities. And this here is an unbelievable example of that,” he said.
In Newfoundland and Labrador there are a lot of lighthouses which the government is looking to get rid of — including one of the two lighthouses at Cape Spear.
Ashfield said for many of those lighthouses, the process is still underway.
“It’s starting to work; it’s starting to come together. It’s a bit of a slow process right now, but I expect activity to pick up,” he said.
Ferryland Mayor Leo Moriarty said the town has been looking to get formal ownership of the lighthouse. He said it means security and control for his town’s most identifiable symbol.
“People, when they think of Ferryland, they think of the Ferryland lighthouse,” he said. “We’re afraid, of course, that a change in policy at the national level could have reflections here.”
The Lighthouse Picnics business employs 14 people, which Moriarty said is a valuable contribution to the local economy.
The lighthouse, which dates back to 1870, will still be lit and function as a navigational beacon.