Evidence of meeting #62 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was lighthouses.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Patricia Kell  Manager, Policy and Government Relations Branch, National Historic Sites Directorate, Parks Canada Agency
  • Cal Hegge  Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Doug Tapley  Manager, Cabinet Affairs, Parks Canada Agency
  • David Burden  Director, Real Property, Safety and Security, Divestiture, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Gerald Keddy

Thank you, Mr. Lunney. We appreciate the final comments that took us 48 seconds over.

Mr. MacAulay.

June 19th, 2007 / 11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Thank you very much. Welcome.

Did I understand Mr. Lunney correctly, that the Auditor General is going to decide or indicate whether one lighthouse should be kept above the other or not? I didn't hear that correctly, did I?

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

I think she simply made the guideline that rather than blanket preserving everything, some decisions would have to be made about making some strategic decisions about which ones are the highest value.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Is there any possibility this bill could put us in a situation that the Auditor General is going to decide what could be kept and what will not be kept? I would pray not, because then we're on autopilot for sure.

Mr. Hegge, on concerns about small craft harbours and the funding part of this, or whoever would answer, what requirements or what situation does the lighthouse have to be in, in order to divest it to the private sector? I do know in my area some have been divested, and there are bed and breakfasts and things taking place in them. Is there a requirement and a lot of dollars required before the move takes place?

11:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Cal Hegge

Well, it's on a case-by-case basis. First of all—

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Sure, but is there a basic requirement? You can't have it falling down, and there are requirements that would be needed, which I would expect would mean that there are dollars needed.

11:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Cal Hegge

In that regard, we're able to find the resources to address the urgent health and safety issues, because we're not going to allow a light station or part of it to fall down and be a hazard to citizens. We do maintain those that are in poor shape or could be a health and safety hazard. We'll maintain them prior to divestiture. When we have no operational requirement for our light stations, and we have probably about 150 that are in the process of divestiture now, we'll try to divest of them in accordance with the policy on divestiture that looks first to federal–provincial–municipal interests. It's noteworthy that we have as part of our long-term capital plan a fourth priority in there, which is the community interest, and we take advantage of that where we can.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Also, if I heard correctly, you don't have to have a public meeting in order to destroy the building. I agree that you shouldn't have a public meeting to repair it or other things, but if you're going to remove the building totally, do you have to have a public meeting?

11:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

11:45 a.m.

Director, Real Property, Safety and Security, Divestiture, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Burden

I think if we're talking about what the bill prescribes versus what we actually do, it's not exactly the same.

The reality is that we have a divestiture program in DFO. We do not, and have not, demolished any lighthouses in quite some time, with the exception of lighthouses that were going to fall because of mother nature. Coastal erosion, etc., in your area of the country is a critical factor that we have to consider. Despite our best efforts, there are circumstances where it's not possible to protect or save all the properties. We have not had any circumstances where we've destroyed a lighthouse for operational reasons. Our primary approach is to try to move it into the hands of a not-for-profit community group or another level of government.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Again, it comes down to dollars. I agree with Mr. Hegge. We have a number of wharves and small craft harbours that have, or have had, barriers up because we don't have the funding to repair them. That's more or less where we are with the lighthouses, if I'm reading between the lines properly. Some of them are in very poor condition for the lack of funding.

11:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Cal Hegge

That's correct.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

I'll turn it over to my esteemed colleague, Mr. Cuzner.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Gerald Keddy

There's one minute. This is a five-minute round.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

I'm getting the crumbs.

On some of the agreements in place now, does DFO continue to own the land and then have a lease agreement with a community group? Is that the norm?