This is how you go about saving a lighthouse. Work for it! Work together for it. Councillor Rob Lantz of Charlottetown electoral ward 3 (Brighton), Charlottetown, PEI, Canada has given me permission to repost this article here from his Ward 3 Brighton blog.
The Brighton Beach Range Front Light is a designated heritage resource under the city’s Zoning & Development Bylaw. The lighthouse was built in 1890. It is an iconic symbol of our nautical heritage and provides a scenic shoreline vista that is photographed as much as, maybe more than, any other site in Charlottetown.
When I was growing up in the area it was a popular pastime to shimmy around the edge of the lighthouse foundation at high tide, leaning against the exterior, trying not to fall in. 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. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which owns the lighthouse, was prepared to remove the lighthouse and replace it with a steel tower. After a massive public outcry DFO agreed to repair the existing structure instead. Since that time, as a member of Heritage Board (now the chair) I have been witness to further DFO threats that the lighthouse may yet 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 “surplus” yet still active, meaning it is still a required navigational aid; a polite way of saying “that’s it, the building is too much trouble but we still need the light.” As we’ve seen from a couple of related media stories this week the deadline for declaring an interest in surplus lighthouses is approaching and groups from community’s across PEI are beginning to come forward.
Last summer I sent a letter to the DFO and Coast Guard. Late in the fall, senior city staff held discussions with federal counterparts which resulted in a draft Memorandum of Agreement for the transfer of ownership of the lighthouse, and a Contribution Agreement by which the feds 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.
Last night council agreed in principle to enter into these agreements pending final negotiations. If all goes well the work should be complete by early next summer.
I was fortunate to have a great deal of assistance from two residents near the lighthouse in navigating the DFO and Coast Guard bureaucracy. Kim Griffin and Dan Jenkins made many phone calls, engaged consulting engineers, and cajoled the Heritage Committee to pursue a transfer of ownership of the lighthouse. I’ve also heard from other nearby residents who are very concerned for the future of the lighthouse. We all agree the neighbourhood wouldn’t be the same without it.
Part of the challenge in protecting the lighthouse from increasingly frequent tidal surges is that it will remain a functional navigational aid so the elevation of the light must remain the same in relation to the rear range light. At some point in the future, if the light is no longer required, it may be possible to increase the height of the foundation to raise the entire structure out of harms way, but we believe the measures being taken will largely protect the lighthouse from any significant damage in the near future.
As the chair of Heritage Board it’s my job to ensure the integrity of our designated heritage resources is maintained. This one — having as much sentimental value to me and many other residents, and considering it’s aesthetic value to our waterfront and Victoria Park — is particular satisfying to be protecting.
January 16, 2012 – Lighthouse deadline looming