Help Save Covehead Lighthouse!
A community meeting was held at the North Shore Community Center on April 26th, 2012 to discuss the future of our beautiful Covehead Lighthouse. A number of volunteers came forward to help form a Friends of Covehead Lighthouse organization to pilot the ongoing project.
In 2010, the Fisheries and Oceans Department declared 480 active and 490 inactive lighthouses across Canada as surplus.
Our Covehead Lighthouse is one of 40 on Prince Edward Island that has been declared surplus.
Keith and I attended a meeting at the Rodd Charlottetown in March, 2011 where Norman Shields, Manager of Heritage Lighthouse Program at Parks Canada gave a very informative presentation about the Heritage Lighthouse Act that came in to effect in May, 2010. Under the act, the lighthouses can be transferred to communities or groups of 25 individuals who want them for their heritage value or tourism potential. Mr. Shields indicated that preference would definitely be given to community groups as they want to ensure that responsibility for the lighthouses would not be taken lightly and would be ongoing. He explained that the Heritage act provides a process for the protection of the lighthouses as well as completion of the sale or transfer.
THE FIRST STEP in the process was to submit a petition with 25 signatures prior to the end of May, 2012 asking that the lighthouse be designated as a heritage lighthouse. The submission was to act as a “place holder” but did not have to be an immediate commitment to take over responsibility for the lighthouse. The Friends of Covehead Lighthouse completed STEP one successfully in August, 2011 and we were informed that the Covehead Lighthouse is eligible to be considered for designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.
STEP TWO is to form a group to get together to do the research to determine the Heritage value of the light and put together a business plan for the acquisition and the ongoing maintenance. Parks Canada is prepared to assist in this process and further assistance is available from Carol Livingstone, President of the Lighthouse Society as well as Mark Derry from Tourism PEI.
Of further interest, Norman Shields of Parks Canada pointed out that the DFO has committed to look after the cleanup of any environmental issues and also to make sure that the lighthouses are in good condition prior to the transfer to new owners. Our understanding at this time is that they have also committed to looking after the pre-established utility costs associated with the light on an ongoing basis.
Once the research has been completed, the community group would then have to determine whether acquiring the lighthouse is feasible and decide to continue with their application prior to the end of May, 2015. If the decision is made to proceed, the application and business plan would be entered and a commitment to acquire and protect the lighthouse would be made and considered by the Minister.
Pat and Keith Notman, Sandpiper Cottages and Suites, Stanhope, PEI http://www.sandpiperpei.com/