DFO Declares All Lighthouses Surplus
Just days after the new federal Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (HLPA) came into effect on May 29, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans declared surplus all of its active and inactive lighthouses – almost 1,000 in total. According to the Heritage Canada Foundation, the move leaves the door open to the abandonment of these lighthouses and demolition by neglect, precisely what the HLPA was intended to prevent.
After a decade of determined effort by several groups and individuals across the country, the HLPA was passed into law in 2008, to be brought into effect two years later. The move by DFO brought this response from Heritage Canada:
…the HLPA recognizes that lighthouses form “an integral part of Canada’s identity, culture and history” and that measures are needed to protect them for posterity. The Act establishes a
process to: select and designate federally-owned heritage lighthouses; prevent their unauthorized alteration and disposal; require their maintenance by the federal government; and facilitate sales or transfers in order to ensure their continuing public purpose.
However the Act excludes lighthouses that are declared surplus from being designated unless a community group or private owner commits to acquire them and protect their heritage character. The impact of DFO now declaring all its lighthouses surplus effectively emasculates the HLPA and shifts the responsibility for their protection entirely onto local communities.
Lighthouse divesture was a component of the Act, but never the principle intent.
The Heritage Canada Foundation is calling on communities across Canada to petition for the heritage designation of lighthouses regardless of their “surplus” status, and urges the Minister of the Environment to ensure the full intent of the Act is adhered to.
For more articles about the Lighthouse Bill, please see the Winter 2010 Quarterly
» HBC Quarterly