Lighthouse advocate frustrated by delays

A petition to save four area lighthouses could have been circulating by now if Strathcona Regional District directors had been more informed, says the district’s vice-chair.

Jim Abram, the vice-chair and a former lightkeeper who has been fighting to save lightstations for several years, is disappointed his latest bid has temporarily stalled largely because of a staff report.

Abram received an e-mail from former senator, and lightkeeper advocate, Pat Carney asking him to bring forward letters detailing legislation that allows regional districts to sponsor lighthouses.

Abram made a motion at last Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting to have the board prepare a petition, which requires 25 signatures, to protect Cape Mudge (Quadra Island), Chatham Point, and Nootka Point lightstations, as well as one beacon – an inactive lighthouse at Lookout Island near Kyuquot.

“Much discussion arose, which was not surprising, but the report that came from staff didn’t tell us anything,”Abram said. “It didn’t give us any information and because of that some of the other directors didn’t want to proceed until it goes back to staff for a full report that should have come to us the first time.”

The Strathcona Regional District’s four lighthouses could potentially receive protection from any future demolition or sale if the regional district board decides to nominate them for heritage designation under the federal government’s Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

In order to be nominated, a petition signed by 25 residents of Canada 18 years of age or older, must be submitted to Parks Canada by May 2012. So far only three of the 30 historic lighthouses in B.C. have been nominated for protection under the heritage act but Abram wants to add four more to that list.

“It’s a very simple procedure. There’s no obligation to administer, there’s no obligation to fund anything,” Abram said.

Abram said he believes had the staff report read differently, a petition could have been secured already.

Instead, nothing will be decided now until Sept. 7 when the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet again.

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