Published on January 20, 2012 - Dave Stewart
The City of Charlottetown is stepping in to save its lighthouse. City council recently passed a resolution to proceed with negotiations and finalize agreements with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over the Brighton Beach Range Light at Victoria Park.
“We have a draft contribution agreement whereby the federal government will pay for major structural upgrades and protection of the lighthouse as well as an agreement to transfer ownership once that is done,’’ said Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of planning and the councillor who represents the area. He said DFO has threatened more than once to either replace the lighthouse with a steel tower or make major changes that are not in keeping with its status as a designated heritage resource in the city’s bylaw.
Lantz grew up in the area and still remembers shimmying around the edge of the lighthouse foundation at high tide.
“I still remember when the Brighton shore around the lighthouse was lined with small summer cottages.’’
The lighthouse suffered extensive damage to the exterior walls from a storm in 2000.
There was a big public outcry when DFO talked of moving the lighthouse. The feds backed off and agreed to repair it.
Since then, Lantz has witnessed, as a member of planning (now the chair), continued DFO threats that the lighthouse may still be replaced with a simple pole.
The concrete foundation is badly deteriorating and the walls suffered more structural damage from ice in recent years.
Last year, DFO declared the lighthouse as surplus yet still active, meaning it is still a required navigational aid.
“(That’s) a polite way of saying ‘that’s it, the building is too much trouble but we still need the light’.’’
The deadline for declaring an interest in surplus lighthouses is approaching and groups from communities across the Island are beginning to come forward.
Lantz said he sent DFO and the Canadian Coast Guard a letter last summer. Late in the fall, senior city staff held discussions with federal counterparts which resulted in a draft agreement for the transfer of ownership of the lighthouse and a contribution agreement by which Ottawa will pay up to $120,000 to repair and reinforce the walls, construct a new concrete base and surround the foundation with a wide radius of protective armour stone.
Earlier this month, council agreed in principle to enter into these agreements pending final negotiations.
Lantz said if all goes well, the work should be complete by early summer.
Photos above & below cf. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=965