Heritage Canada Foundation /La fondation Héritage Canada
For immediate release
DFO Declares All Lighthouses Surplus Undermining Intent of New Act
Ottawa, ON – June 10, 2010 – The Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF) is deeply disappointed to learn that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has declared surplus all of its active and inactive lighthouses, numbering close to 1,000. The move undermines the intent of the new Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (HLPA), leaving the door open to their abandonment and demolition by neglect.
The intent of the HLPA is “to conserve and protect heritage lighthouses”—legislation that elected officials, HCF, the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, and other groups across Canada worked tirelessly to enact for over 10 years.
Passed into law in 2008 and only recently brought into force, 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.
HCF calls 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.
The Heritage Canada Foundation is a registered charity and voluntary organization created in 1973 as Canada’s National Trust to encourage the conservation and use of heritage buildings and historic places for the benefit of all Canadians.