How the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act Works

How the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act Works

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act which was passed in 2008, and came into force on May 29, 2010, lets the Canadian government transfer the lighthouses to new owners who want to take advantage of a heritage designation or tourism potential. The act is a result of a private member's bill from BC Conservative senator Pat Carney. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says the lighthouses on the surplus lists are those determined by the Canadian Coast Guard to be ones that "could be replaced with simpler structures whose operation and maintenance would be more cost-effective" and also former lighthouses that are no longer part of Canada's aids to the navigation system. None of the Canadian lighthouses that are currently staffed are on the list, although the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans is still reviewing staffed lighthouses.

With the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, the Canadian federal government put nearly 1000 lighthouses on the government surplus list, but about 500 of these lighthouses are still active lighthouses, and another 500 or so are inactive lighthouses. Lighthouses on the lists include lighthouses as notable as the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Nova Scotia and the Cape Spear Lighthouse near St. John's Newfoundland.

Obtaining a Heritage Designation

Individuals, municipalities non-profit groups, and businesses can apply to Parks Canada to get a heritage designation for the lighthouse. The petitions must be signed by 25 Canadians, and a written commitment to acquire ownership and protect the lighthouse must be accepted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada before a heritage designation will be granted. Potential owners must also submit a business plan showing that the proposed use of the property will be economically viable over the long term and that they have the capacity to manage the property. If surplus lighthouses haven't been spoken for after two years they will be returned to the holdings of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard.

Maintaining Aids to Navigation for Surplus Lighthouses

Some of the lighthouses on the surplus lists contain aids to navigation, which must be kept operational. For those lighthouses, purchasers have to agree to give Fisheries and Oceans Canada access to the property to allow the department to maintain and operate the aids to navigation.