An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Megan Leslie  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

In committee (House), as of June 10, 2015
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act to designate the Sambro Island Lighthouse as a heritage lighthouse.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

June 10, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2015 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to stand to speak in favour of Bill C-588 regarding the Sambro Island lighthouse.

I had the pleasure of serving the community of Sambro between 2000 and 2004. In fact, the boundaries of the Halifax West riding were changed in 1997, and that was not a great year for me in other respects because I began what I call my involuntary sabbatical. I was defeated that year, but I was re-elected in 2000 under those same boundaries, so I had the pleasure and honour of serving the Sambro area from 2000 to 2004 when the boundaries were changed again and it was put back into the Halifax riding and taken out of Halifax West.

The Sambro lighthouse is a very iconic structure. It has a great history. It was established as a result of the very first act of the Nova Scotia legislature. That is remarkable, when we think about it. In fact, it was built in 1758. It is hard to believe that we have any lighthouses in North America that were built that long ago, which is why it should not be surprising, perhaps, that it is in fact the oldest operating lighthouse in North America.

I had the pleasure of going there, back in 2013, when I was no longer the MP for that area but still interested in attending public meetings in the Sambro area, along with the current Premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil, who was then the leader of the Liberal Party. He still is, of course, but he was not premier then. We were there to discuss community support for protecting lighthouses and in particular the Sambro light.

I want to begin by thanking my hon. friend, the member for Halifax, for bringing the bill forward. I think it is a very positive idea, and I am very supportive of any measures that may result in this light being maintained and preserved for the long term because of that incredible history it has and the fact that it is North America's oldest light, a beautiful structure.

I also want to congratulate Brendan Maguire, who is the provincial member, the MLA for Halifax Atlantic. He has done a lot of work on this and had many meetings and made lots of efforts with both levels of government to try to get support for the maintenance and the protection of this lighthouse.

I also want to congratulate Rena Maguire and Susan Paul from the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, who have done so much to gather support for the protection of the lighthouse.

In 2013, I tabled a number of petitions signed by more than 5,000 people, calling on the Government of Canada to preserve the lighthouse at Sambro Island, and I was very pleased that the Government of Canada decided to provide $1.5 million for repairs and upgrades to the lighthouse.

I hope we all recognize that this is an important part of Nova Scotia's heritage and really of Canada's heritage. I think that contribution of $1.5 million to upgrade it and maintain it is an indication of that importance. That is an important step, and we would like to ensure that it is preserved on a permanent, ongoing basis.

I had the pleasure of visiting the lighthouse. I think it was in September 2013 that I was there. Paddy Gray is a fisherman who fishes out of Sambro, and he was kind enough to take me out on his boat. We actually caught a few fish along the way, but then we visited the island itself and went up to the light. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures. As a matter of fact, I have one of my photographs as the wallpaper on my computer, so I see the lighthouse and the island every day when I look at my computer.

Not long ago I was asked to do a painting, just a little one, a five-by-seven canvas, for a fundraising auction. I do not claim to be a Renoir or Monet, but I enjoyed doing this from one of my photographs.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2015 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, with regard to the Sambro Island lighthouse.

I want to commend my colleague the member for Halifax for her tenacity in supporting this community and this iconic structure that means so much to not only the people of Sambro and the people of Halifax but also the people across this country if not internationally. As has been said, the structure was built in 1758 by the first act of the oldest legislature, in the province of Nova Scotia.

There have been a lot of people coming and going from Halifax Harbour, whether as part of the Royal Canadian Navy, war brides, or immigrants coming to this great country. It has been suggested by veterans that, when they left the harbour, the Sambro lighthouse was the last thing they saw, and when they returned to Halifax Harbour it was the first thing they saw. As one veteran expressed, it was like lifting a huge load off of their shoulders in making that crossing, seeing the lighthouse and recognizing that Nova Scotia and Canada were a few short hours away.

It is a huge structure made of stone and concrete, standing 24 metres tall, and located on a granite island off the entrance to Halifax Harbour just slightly beyond the community of Sambro. It is a stately structure and has been referred to as Canada's Statue of Liberty.

The other day I was thinking about how my wife's grandfather came to this country in 1928 through Pier 21 and would have seen this structure as the ship he was on approached this wonderful country, which he then made his home and where he raised his family, as did so many.

Why is this important? This bill would place the Sambro Island lighthouse within the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. Therefore, it would become a responsibility of Parks Canada to maintain it and save a piece of our natural heritage.

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came into force in 2008. However, for some reason many heritage buildings were missed, this one included. As a result, there was a requirement for the communities to put together a petition to nominate them as historic structures and put together a business plan. It was quite an onerous process. Needless to say it was a difficult one, given the lack of resources. However, there was a lot of work done.

I think an indication of why it is so important for Parks Canada to take over this important structure for the Government of Canada is in recognition of the costs. No community is able to manage the costs of maintaining this important structure. It is on an island; it is 24 metres tall. We received an indication of what it would cost to maintain it when, in 2008, the Coast Guard repainted the lighthouse. It used a helicopter to ferry supplies, including a large web of scaffolding. The total cost was about $80,000, which is a huge expense for a small community and so a very difficult process.

However, I give credit to the Sambro Island Lighthouse Preservation Society for being diligent and tenacious on this issue, along with Barry MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. I do not know how many hundreds of petitions I tabled in the House, along with my colleagues from Nova Scotia, but they ensured it was in the minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians that something needed to be done about this. I commend all of those volunteers for their efforts in this regard. That is why we are now at this point.

I was happy to congratulate the government when I heard in early May that it had indicated that it would invest $1.5 million to restore the Sambro Island lighthouse. The minister at the time indicated that it was one of the most iconic structures in the country. It was great news, which would allow long overdue and needed concrete renovations, rehabilitation of the original lantern and gallery, and repainting to take place.

However, this was recognized as a stop-gap measure. Therefore, it was important that the legislation be introduced in the House. My understanding is that government members have indicated their support, and for that I am happy to commend them.

Part of the Parks Canada mandate is to protect the health and wholeness of the commemorative integrity of the national sites it operates. This means preserving the site's cultural resources, communicating its heritage values and national significance and kindling the respect of people whose decisions and actions affect the site. This is why it is so important for this important heritage structure in the history of Nova Scotia and Canada to be properly protected by the federal government.

It is not as if the federal government has not already recognized the heritage value of this structure. In 1937, the Sambro lighthouse was designated a national historic site, and a plaque was placed in the village of Sambro. Then in 1996, the lighthouse received Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office classified status, which is the highest ranking status for Canadian government heritage buildings. In the case of classified federal heritage buildings for which the minister has assigned the highest level of protection, departments are required to consult with the heritage protection legislation before undertaking any action that would affect their heritage structure

I did not indicate when I began that this is important to me for another reason. I was a member of the legislative assembly for the constituency of Halifax Atlantic between the years 1991 and 2003, and Sambro was part of my constituency. It was a constant reminder of the history that the community had shared with North America. The fact is that Sambro has been an active and productive fishing village for over 500 years, and it continues to thrive to this day based on the collaborative manner in which the people in that community, the fishermen and others, go about harvesting the resource of the ocean in a sustainable fashion.

I am very proud to be here with my colleague, the member for Halifax, who sponsored this bill, to speak for a few moments in support of what she has been able to do for this iconic heritage structure, and also as somebody who has had some attachment and has attended many public meetings in the community about what we would do with the Sambro lighthouse.

It is a good day, and I am pleased to support the bill. Again, I commend my colleague, the member for Halifax.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2015 / 5:50 p.m.
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Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to private member's bill, Bill C-588.

Our government is prepared to support Bill C-588 subject to certain amendments. When we last spoke about the bill in the House on May 25, our government expressed our support for the designation of the Sambro Island lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The Sambro Island lighthouse is an iconic Canadian structure. It speaks to so much of our history, whether it be immigration, commerce, politics or war.

On May 25, we also spoke about the need to find a long-term plan that would ensure the lighthouse could be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is foremost in our thoughts and is the subject of the amendments we proposed to Bill C-588.

We know that local support for the lighthouse is very strong. A preliminary business plan has been worked up by the local lighthouse heritage society and this plan could be further developed in the future. Support for the lighthouse is also strong at the regional and provincial levels. The prospects are good that the local society will be able to draw upon that wider support to further develop its business plan proposal.

As the members of the House know, our government recently announced upward of $1.5 million to do some needed work on the lighthouse, which will ensure this iconic structure is in good condition for years to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also has funding in place to assist third parties that are acquiring heritage lighthouses.

I draw attention to these facts to make the point that the Sambro Island lighthouse is on a promising path that will ensure the protection of its heritage character for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

Support for the lighthouse exists in the community and at all levels of government. Planned investments in the lighthouse will ensure that it is in good condition for a new owner. Funding is available to facilitate the transfer of the lighthouse. These benefits should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential for the Sambro Island lighthouse. The act has proven to be working for other iconic surplus lighthouses.

For example, the Panmure Head and Point Prim lighthouses in Prince Edward Island are two examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that are being acquired by local community organizations.

The Point Prim lighthouse is the first lighthouse in the province, and it was built in 1845. This lighthouse marks the entrance to Hillsborough Bay and Charlottetown harbour and is one of only a few brick lighthouses in Canada.

The Panmure Head lighthouse was built in 1853 and is the second lighthouse in the province. It marks the entrance to Georgetown harbour.

Our government's experience with these two lighthouses shows that it is possible for community-based organizations to assume ownership of our older, iconic lighthouses when the right conditions are in place.

In New Brunswick, the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse is another example of one of our older, iconic lighthouses being acquired by a local organization. Built in 1869, this lighthouse is the one that can be seen when crossing the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island.

The Île du Pot à l'Eau-de-Vie and Pilier de Pierre lighthouses in Quebec, built in 1862 and 1843 respectively, are other examples of local groups taking over two of our older lighthouses.

Another example is the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, which has stood on the west coast of Vancouver Island since 1912. Although younger than some of the other examples already mentioned, this lighthouse is an example of a uniquely Canadian design and its designation resulted from carefully developed local partnerships. This white concrete tower guides vessels as they enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

At the provincial level, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has acquired the Point Amour Lighthouse, completed in 1857, and is operated and protected as a provincial historic site.

These are some examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that have been designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, to be managed by new owners in the future.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with third parties on other lighthouses that will no doubt be designated in the future. The dedication demonstrated by community-based organizations and other levels of government to identify and implement long-term visions for historic lighthouses that are important to them should inspire all of us who care about the Sambro Island lighthouse.

Our position is that the Sambro Island lighthouse deserves the same opportunity as the other iconic surplus lighthouses being designated and protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The ultimate goal is to identify a viable, long-term plan for the lighthouse, one that will secure its future for generations to come.

We should keep in mind that the Sambro Island lighthouse currently enjoys the highest level of protection afforded to federal heritage buildings under Treasury Board policy, and the care of a diligent custodian in Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as the recent funding announcement amply demonstrates.

Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, 74 lighthouses have been designated, Among them are some of our country's most iconic lighthouses, including eight national historic sites that will continue to be managed by the federal government. So far, 32 heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new owners have been designated. I have highlighted some of them here today and we know that others will follow when their future owners conclude their agreements to acquire the lighthouses from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Sambro Island lighthouse merits inclusion in the family of heritage lighthouses. However, we need to do more than just designate the lighthouse. We need to continue in our quest to develop and implement a viable plan that would ensure the lighthouse can be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is critically important for the future of the lighthouse.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

June 9th, 2015 / 5:55 p.m.
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Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Conservative

Robert Goguen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in the House today on this private member's bill, Bill C-588.

I would like to begin by recognizing the importance lighthouses not only have to our maritime heritage but also, as we have heard and as many members have shared, as part of the fabric of our history as Canadians.

The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act is an opportunity for Canadians to participate in the conservation and protection of heritage lighthouses. It is intended to promote the conservation of as many lighthouses as possible, so that these sites remain accessible to present and future generations of Canadians.

On May 29, 2015, an important date for the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, our government announced that 74 heritage lighthouses had been designated under the act. We know that other historic lighthouses will be considered for designation in the future, once Fisheries and Oceans Canada concludes the necessary negotiations with community groups and other levels of government that have developed and submitted sustainable, long-term plans for the acquisition and conservation of their local lighthouses.

These positive steps in the preservation of our maritime heritage speak to the success of the act. The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act should be allowed the opportunity to operate as intended. Identifying a viable, responsible new owner for the Sambro Island lighthouse is both essential to that operation and good for the long-term preservation of the lighthouse.

Putting this objective foremost in our thought also respects the work that has been done by other levels of government and community groups across Canada to develop viable, sustainable plans for the historic lighthouses that are important to them. Their dedication, commitment and success should inspire all of us who care about the Sambro Island lighthouse to dare to dream a bright and confident future for this influential part of our maritime history

In many cases already, local community groups have been able to breathe new life into these lighthouses, converting them to museums, restaurants, lodging or other kinds of tourist attractions. The enactment of the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act has created a unique opportunity for the government to work in partnership with various community groups, provincial governments and non-profit organizations whose ultimate goal is to maintain and preserve these iconic lighthouses all across this country.

There have been a number of success stories that have come out of the designation of heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new non-federal owners. We anticipate many more success stories in the future, as more community based organizations and other levels of government conclude their negotiations with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to acquire and protect the lighthouses that are important to them

I would like to take a minute to mention some of the lighthouses designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act that will be protected and preserved by their new owners from now on. These examples attest to the success of the law to date. The efforts of the people who envisaged a new future for these lighthouses and made it a reality have inspired all of us.

One example is the Brighton Beach lighthouse, which was successfully designated and transferred to the city of Charlottetown in 2013. This lighthouse is one of the icons of the city, and its transfer to the city has ensured that it will continue to grace the shores of Charlottetown Harbour for many years to come.

Another example is the Neil's Harbour lighthouse in Nova Scotia. A local group has been involved with this lighthouse for many years. The transfer of the lighthouse to the group is a natural evolution of their involvement with the site, and the government has every confidence that the community will be a great custodian for the future.

Similarly, the Île du Pot à l'Eau-de-Vie lighthouse has been managed by a local group for more than a generation. It has now completed the final step towards official ownership. It runs a unique and memorable bed and breakfast.

Some of the earliest heritage lighthouse designations are for three towers in the town of Southampton in Ontario. Though these are relatively simple structures, they are packed with meaning for the local community. Their acquisition by the municipality has helped to ensure that the town's maritime heritage will be preserved and showcased for the benefit of everyone who visits the town now and in the future.

More recently, three lighthouses in Nova Scotia were acquired by the municipality of Digby. In each case, the municipality is working in partnership with individual lighthouse societies, each with their own vision and plan for the future of their respective lighthouses. The municipality and the groups involved really should be congratulated for thinking and working together to ensure that critical markers of their history and heritage are preserved for the future.

The work that has gone into the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act by all levels of government, and more importantly, by Canadians, has in each of these examples proven to be meaningful, proven to be necessary, and proven to be successful.

For these reasons, our government supports Bill C-588, subject to amendments, which would rededicate the Government of Canada and all those who care about the Sambro Island lighthouses, to setting the lighthouse on a course that will ensure that it is protected and appreciated for generations to come.

Our government is pleased to be adding the Sambro Island lighthouse to this big family of heritage lighthouses and helping to ensure that future generations will continue to consider Canada as one of the world's great maritime nations.

Our government remains committed to protecting and preserving our heritage lighthouses. The 74 heritage lighthouses already designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act bear witness to that commitment.

An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse)Private Members' Business

May 25th, 2015 / 11:05 a.m.
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NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

moved that Bill C-588, An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, this past year, one day before Remembrance Day, November 10, 2014, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore and I held a press conference about a lighthouse and its link to Remembrance Day. With us was veteran Earl Corn. Mr. Corn is a retired sailor of 38 years, and he talked about how the light from the Sambro Island Lighthouse was so important to Canada's men and women serving in the military. As Mr. Corn stated, “This was the last thing we saw [leaving port], and the first thing we saw arriving home.... It's probably one of the most important pieces of real estate we have”.

Also at our press conference was George Zwaagstra, who immigrated to Canada in the 1950s. Mr. Zwaagstra told us a heartwarming story of immigrating to Canada by boat, crammed together with others who were seeking a new life in Canada, and how they spent a couple of weeks in rough seas. He told us about one passenger who suffered a horrible case of seasickness, and how after days and days of no relief this man begged his friends to help him. He said he did not think he could go on being on the ship. That is when someone saw a light on the horizon, a small pinprick of light. It would probably not be very interesting to us, but news of that light spread across the ship in an instant. Mr. Zwaagstra and others went below and found the poor man with seasickness who felt he could not go on, and they hauled him to the deck above to see that light. That light was the first that they saw of Canada, and that light was from the Sambro Island lighthouse.

People have called the Sambro Island lighthouse Canada's Statue of Liberty. It was the first light that newcomers arriving by boat could see. They saw that light before they even saw land. As we heard from Mr. Corn, that light was not only the first light that new immigrants saw, but it was the last light that Canadians saw when they went off to war. For those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and did not return, sometimes it was the last memory that they had of Canada.

Those stories demonstrate how important this lighthouse is. That light is a part of our history, yet it continues to shine today. The Sambro Island lighthouse is an iconic structure. In fact, at a recent funding announcement to repair the lighthouse, the Minister of Justice called this lighthouse one of the most iconic structures, not only in Nova Scotia but across the country.

This iconic lighthouse, Canada's Statue of Liberty, is at risk. A number of years ago, the government embarked on a community consultation to draft a new piece of legislation that would be called the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. This was a very good consultation process. I have talked to people in Nova Scotia who were part of this process, and they were proud to be a part of it. After a period of robust consultation, the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act was written and it passed through Parliament. Those in the Nova Scotia lighthouse preservation community felt a real sense of accomplishment, that they were a part of something good that would preserve and protect our lighthouses.

Then, in 2010, in the old bait and switch, the federal government made an announcement. Conservatives announced that since lighthouses were not really used as navigational aids anymore, lighthouses across the country would be declared surplus. They were delisted. Essentially, government would not take care of them anymore.

In the lighthouse protection community, there was an incredible feeling of betrayal. There was all of this work to save our lighthouses, and then the government announced in 2010 that 976 lighthouses across Canada were surplus. In the words of Barry MacDonald, then president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society:

I'm very, very disappointed. Although the aid to navigation that's on that location is not declared surplus, what they're coming at here is the fact that they can maintain a steel tower on that site with a solar light a whole lot cheaper than they can maintain a heritage structure.

The 976 lighthouses across Canada were declared surplus, and Sambro Island lighthouse was on that list. Once a lighthouse is delisted, the community does have an option to take over that lighthouse.

However, under the new Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, the public was given two years to petition and to nominate historic lighthouses. In order to qualify for this designation, the group or an individual had to submit a business plan for its upkeep. We have seen this happen in different communities across Canada where communities have applied to take over their local lighthouse.

Shortly after the announcement in 2010, I met with members of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society to talk about options. We discussed this option: Could we rally the community to come together to take over this lighthouse?

A community group began the heritage designation process. However, it does not have the resources required to maintain this structure, not to mention the fact that trust has been lost. Why would they engage with a process when they had spent years in a process that only led to their community lighthouse being put at risk? Trust was lost.

Also, in the case of the Sambro Island lighthouse, which stands roughly 24 metres tall, the lighthouse is located on a granite island at the entrance to Halifax Harbour. It is not as easily accessed as if it were on land or located on the end of a pier.

Second, the financial cost associated with maintaining the structure is very high. For example, in 2008, when the Coast Guard repainted the lighthouse, it had to use a helicopter to ferry in supplies, including a large web of scaffolding. The total cost came in at about $80,000 for a simple repainting.

It is not possible for the community to take over this lighthouse. The Sambro Island lighthouse is not on a pier or a wharf. It is not on the shores of Sambro or on Crystal Crescent Beach. It is on an island: essentially a piece of rock in the ocean.

Sue Paul, secretary for the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society put it well:

This is on an island. It's not easy to get to. It's also an 80-foot tower. It's not something that you can just put painting scaffolding on to do a quick fix-up.... It requires more work than our community can give it safely.

The community is not able to take care of this lighthouse. It is dangerous. It is not easy to get to. Every summer, there is a community celebration called Sou' Wester Days. Boat tours are organized to the island, and I cannot tell members how many of those tours have been cancelled due to rain, fog, wind, big swells. It is not like it is a hop, skip, and jump.

When I met with the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society members in 2010, another thing was apparent. They were tired. They had put all of these resources into a consultation process and no one had any energy left. Eventually the two-year time for the community to register its intent to take over that lighthouse passed by.

In 2013, the local community in Sambro started to organize. It started as a meeting of friends, including Sue Paul, Stephanie Smith, and Brendan McGuire, who would later go on to represent this area as MLA. They came together and talked about one goal: to save the Sambro lighthouse. In October 2013, they established the not-for-profit organization called Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, and relied heavily upon Barry MacDonald for his expertise on lighthouses and working with government.

Barry mentored this group, and the group grew in size and determination. They put together a petition and asked people to sign if they supported saving the Sambro Island lighthouse. With 5,000 signatures from across Canada, they asked MPs to present those petitions in Parliament.

Working with this group of citizens, we came up with a solution. If Parks Canada took over responsibility for this park, actually took it away from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the Coast Guard, we could preserve this lighthouse and piece of our history.

That is what we did. Working with community and the wonderful legislative drafters at the House of Commons, I was able to put together Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island lighthouse). With the passing of the act, we could save the Sambro Island lighthouse and this piece of our history.

Why should Parks Canada take over the lighthouse? Let me tell members some of the historical facts about the lighthouse.

It was built during the Seven Years' War, in 1758, by the first act passed in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. That was the first bill passed in our legislature in Nova Scotia. It was about this lighthouse. It is the oldest operational lighthouse in the Americas, and the federal government has already recognized the historic significance of this structure.

In 1937, Sambro lighthouse was designated as a national historic site and a plaque was placed in the village of Sambro. The construction of this lighthouse was also commemorated as a national historic event in 1937.

In 1996, the lighthouse received federal heritage review board classified status, which is the highest-ranking status for Canadian government heritage buildings. The heritage character of the Sambro Island lighthouse was described in the Parks Canada website of federal heritage designations as the following:

One of the most historically important lighthouses in Canada due to its age and its association with Halifax Harbour's marine traffic for over 235 years, this stone and concrete tower is considered the oldest operating lighthouse in North America.

Recently I attended a funding announcement with the Minister of Justice and the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's, who announced $1.5 million to go toward the repair of this lighthouse. This is our chance to fix the lighthouse and restore it to its former glory, and then preserve and protect it for generations to come. Why spend $1.5 million to prevent this lighthouse from tumbling into the sea now, only to have it tumble into the sea 40 years from now? We need to act to protect this lighthouse.

In my last few minutes, I would like to thank some people. I do recognize that if one starts a list of thanks, one is bound to forget someone, but I will take that risk because there are people who deserve recognition in this House.

I thank Sue Paul and Stephanie Smith who spearheaded the community, bringing us all together as the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society. They credit their nanny, Minnie Gilkie Smith, because without her admiration for and stories of the lighthouse, which she passed down to them and the rest of their family, they may not have felt so deeply rooted to that island and lighthouse.

I thank Barry MacDonald for his support and mentoring of this group. I know he recently retired from the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, and that is a well-deserved retirement, but I also know that lighthouses are in his heart and we are bound to see him at a meeting or two.

This lighthouse transcends party lines, and I would like to thank a few politicians across those party lines. Brendan Maguire, the Liberal MLA for Halifax Atlantic, has been steadfast in his commitment to this lighthouse. The member for Halifax West has also worked on this issue and brought attention to it in the House, as has my colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. Members of the community of Sambro have named the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's as a champion for lighthouses, and I agree with them. I thank Senators Munson and Cordy for also being lighthouse supporters, as well as local councillor Steve Adams.

I thank the schoolchildren and the school of Sambro who supported this cause by selling bracelets and having awareness projects at school. The entire school drew pictures of the lighthouse and made a video of the children singing the lighthouse song. They sent the video to the Prime Minister—I am sure he has it marked in his favourites list—and they have asked him to save their lighthouse.

I thank The Chebucto News, which always made space in its publication for another story on the Sambro Island lighthouse. I thank the community members of Sambro for throwing themselves wholeheartedly into this project and gathering so many names for the petition, including Mishoo's store in Sambro, and Now We're Cookin' in Herring Cove. They had plenty of signatures for the petitions. I thank each and every person who took the time to gather names for this petition.

I also want to thank lighthouse advocates Chris Mills and Rip Irwin. Rip was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, which started after a trip to Sambro Island lighthouse.

As members can see, this is not just a lighthouse; this is part of our hearts, part of our community locally, but also part of the fabric of our history as Canadians. It is incredibly important to us. I agree with the Minister of Justice that this is an iconic structure for Canada. It is time to protect this lighthouse, and it is time for this lighthouse to shine on.

An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse)Private Members' Business

May 25th, 2015 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-588, an act to designate the Sambro Island lighthouse as a heritage lighthouse.

I thank all my colleagues in the House and in the Senate who are supporting the bill, but especially my colleagues from Nova Scotia, who are all working together to make this happen.

The Liberal Party of Canada believes in the value of protecting Canada's story through the preservation of our historic lighthouses for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations. We understand the need for federal stewardship on this issue and urge the government to work collaboratively with local leaders to develop an effective strategy to ensure the survival of the Sambro Island lighthouse.

The Liberal Halifax-area member of Parliament has represented his constituents in the House of Commons regarding the preservation of the Sambro Lighthouse since 2013, and the Liberal Party of Canada has long advocated for recognition of the historical, cultural, and economic significance of Canada's lighthouses; we voted in support of the Heritage Lighthouse Protect Act.

We support the bill but are concerned that it does not fully accomplish what the sponsoring member claims it does. Designating the Sambro Lighthouse a "designated heritage lighthouse" creates no obligation stemming from the bill for the federal government to operate the site in the future. She explained that earlier.

We recommend sending the bill to committee to so that the committee can determine whether the scope is sufficient for its stated goal as well as examine custodial responsibilities for the preservation, maintenance, and operation of this iconic structure.

Sambro Island is located, as was mentioned before, off the coast of Nova Scotia near the entrance of Halifax Harbour. In 1758, the earliest lighthouse in North America was built on the island. Today, the lighthouse is operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The lighthouse is the oldest standing and operating lighthouse in the Americas. Its construction was commemorated as a National Historic Event in 1937, and in 1996 the lighthouse was recognized as a federal heritage building.

Earlier this month, the government announced a two-year investment to rehabilitate the Sambro Island lighthouse. The project is estimated at more than $1.5 million. The lighthouse will be transferred to local community leaders under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.

These are a few facts I would like to share regarding this historic lighthouse.

Legislation to establish the lighthouse was passed on the first day of the first session of the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia in 1758. As the member mentioned, I believe, it was one of the first pieces of legislation. Construction was completed in 1759.

The light is located at the southern entrance to Halifax harbour. It was the first sight of the city for members of the Royal Canadian Navy returning to Halifax, and for new immigrants entering through Pier 21. I am proud to say that my parents came through that same pier.

Sambro served as the departure point from North America for Joshua Slocum's famous solo navigation around the world in 1895.

In 1996 the lighthouse received Federal Heritage Review Board “classified” status, the highest-ranking status for Canadian government heritage buildings.

It is still an active aid to navigation. The beacon is being maintained by the federal government. After an outpouring of support from the community, Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently committed to replacing a broken window and repairing the staircase inside to ensure the light can remain operational.

The lighthouse was repainted by the Coast Guard in 2008 at a cost of $80,000. The light was also solarized in 2008.

The Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, represented by Rena Maguire and Susan Paul, has organized petitions, public meetings, and visits to the lighthouse.

The Province of Nova Scotia recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society. I heard it was also through the hard work of MLA Brendan Maguire. The society is currently developing a business plan for the lighthouse with the hope of encouraging more tourism to the site and to help in maintaining the lighthouse as an historic site.

A petition was tabled in 2013 with more than 5,000 signatures in support of preserving the lighthouse.

There are also a great number of lighthouses that I would like to mention in my riding of Sydney—Victoria as well. I will talk about a couple in particular, because lighthouses are important. We have been very fortunate that some community groups recognize the cultural and historic importance of these lighthouses and have put a great deal of work into sharing their knowledge, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. It is a great group.

I believe that the province of Nova Scotia has more lighthouses than any other province because of length of shoreline and its rugged coast.

The St. Paul Island Historical Society worked for close to a decade to have a lighthouse relocated next to the St. Paul Island Museum. For 30 years or so, the lighthouse was at the Canadian Coast Guard jetty in Dartmouth. The lighthouse was dismantled in order to transport it by flatbed truck. The total cost of restoring, transporting, and erecting the lighthouse was $120,000. The federal government invested $108,000 in the project through Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation.

Dingwall, which is a northern community in my riding, has a long maritime tradition and close ties to St. Paul Island. A lighthouse has operated on the island since 1839. The original southwest light was established in 1839, burned in 1916, and was replaced by a cast iron cylindrical lighthouse in 1917. The 1917 light was then replaced with an automatic system in 1962. This is what has happened to many lighthouses over the years.

There has also been a community connection with St. Paul Island. Boats transported people and supplies to the island. Many people have relatives who worked on the island, so there is a close emotional and historic bond with the island. There were as many as 50 people living on the island at one time. There were life-saving stations, radio operators, and so on, and the museum is dedicated to that history.

Canada's ocean shoreline is at least 250,000 kilometres in length. It is the longest shoreline in the world. Just minutes off the world-famous Cabot Trail, we can find Canada's first and only federally designated heritage lighthouse on any of Canada's three oceans. Built in 1915 and relocated in Dingwall, the St. Paul Southwest Lighthouse is also the first cast iron lighthouse constructed in Canada.

An old map of St. Paul Island shows 40 shipwrecks, ranging from square-rigged ships to steam-powered vessels. This is described as only a partial list of wrecks in these dangerous waters off northern Cape Breton. Other sources say that as many as 350 ships went to the bottom of the sea there.

The first lighthouse in Canada, and the second in North America, was constructed in Louisbourg in 1730. Its purpose was to protect ships by lighting their way into the harbour of the great French fortress of Louisbourg, perched on the far southeastern rocky coast of Cape Breton Island. In the years after Louisbourg was captured by the British, the fortress was levelled and the land was left desolate. There was no longer a need for a light, so it fell into ruin.

No other lighthouse existed or was necessary along the vast expanse of Nova Scotia's almost empty coastline until 1758, when the Sambro light was built at the far outer reaches of Halifax Harbour. A government lottery raised the necessary money for it. Thereafter, as pockets of settlements began to develop along the shoreline, the need for navigational aids became increasingly important. The development of hydrographic charts, printed sailing directions, and navigational markers and buoys facilitated daylight and fair-weather marine activities. Lighthouses, lightships, and fog alarms provided a measure of the security needed for nighttime and very bad weather.

Lightkeeping was a hazardous and demanding career. In the 1930s, it was critical in Nova Scotia for a large, well-developed network to be in place. As I mentioned earlier, in the decades after World War II, changing patterns in coastal and international trade, the advent of radar and sophisticated navigational technology, and the ravages of wind, water, and time all combined to put an end to the Nova Scotia lighthouse world.

Canada is built on many heritage buildings, and lighthouses are very important. We agree with this bill. It is indeed an important bill because of the historical importance, the cultural importance, and the impact that lighthouses have on the tourism industry in coastal communities.

It is important that we continue to protect these landmarks. I hope my colleagues will support Bill C-588, which designates Sambro Island lighthouse as a true heritage lighthouse.

An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse)Private Members' Business

May 25th, 2015 / 11:55 a.m.
See context

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, seven minutes is not nearly long enough to speak on the Sambro Island lighthouse, but I will take what time I have. I want to echo the words of my colleagues who have spoken on this issue before me in the House. Canadians have spoken clearly. Our lighthouse heritage matters and needs to be protected.

Like Bill C-588, the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act originated as a private member's bill, and its principles resonated so clearly with parliamentarians that it was enacted unopposed. I would say, just to clarify the record, that it had a couple of opportunities to move first from the Senate and then to the House of Commons before it actually was approved, and I do not believe that anyone has recognized late Senator Mike Forrestall's support of that bill. It really was his idea and dream. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see it fulfilled, but he was certainly the keystone for that private member's legislation.

When the act finally came into force, Canadians responded by nominating nearly 350 lighthouses for designation through a petition process established by the act, and our government is proud of the progress that has been made over the five years since the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came into force. Today there are 74 designated heritage lighthouses that are protected for the future. As impressive as these results are, it is gratifying to know that many more lighthouses will be considered for designation in the months and years ahead as Fisheries and Oceans Canada concludes agreements to transfer historic lighthouses to responsible new owners who have demonstrated their ability and desire to implement a sustainable, long-term plan for the conservation of their local lighthouses.

Sambro Island lighthouse is one of those lighthouses that occupies a special place in Canada's maritime heritage. It was established in 1758 and is the oldest operating lighthouse in the Americas. It is located on Sambro Island, at the entrance to Halifax Harbour, and is surrounded by a dangerous maze of rocks and shoals. This lighthouse has guided countless people to safety while also being a silent witness to numerous shipwrecks and sea battles. For generations this lighthouse has served its purpose well by guiding mariners into and out of one of the largest, most impressive natural harbours in the world.

Its construction was designated by the Government of Canada as an event of national historical significance way back in 1937, so its special heritage value has long been recognized. More recently, the Sambro Island lighthouse was designated a classified federal heritage building in 1996, and through that designation it enjoys the highest level of heritage protection accorded to federal buildings. It should be reassuring for all to know that the heritage character of this important lighthouse already enjoys strong protection under the custodianship of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Since 2008 we have invested nearly $40,000 in the lighthouse, which includes repairing concrete, painting the tower base, and sealing a concrete walkway.

As reassuring as this is, it is important to note that the heritage character of the Sambro Island lighthouse is currently protected. Our government also wants to see it designated and protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act and join the growing family of heritage lighthouses being created by the Government of Canada in partnership with community groups and other levels of government all across Canada. Sambro Island lighthouse merits designation under this act.

It is also important to note that Sambro Island lighthouse is not under any imminent threat of neglect or demolition. As a classified federal heritage building, the Sambro Island lighthouse is currently afforded the same level of protection as would be offered under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. Nevertheless, our government is determined to find a viable, responsible owner for the Sambro Island lighthouse, a new owner who has a vision for a sustainable new use for Sambro Island, with its iconic lighthouse and related light station buildings, and the wherewithal, of course, to make that vision a reality. Our government will help make this happen.

We recently announced that we are making a significant investment of more than $1.5 million in the lighthouse over the next two years. It should be said that this funding will go toward rehabilitating the foundation, floor, walls, beams, and lantern deck; fixing issues related to erosion, cracking, and stone work; rehabilitating the original lantern; installing a heating system; and painting the lighthouse.

We are pleased to make these important investments in the Sambro Island lighthouse to serve its more than 250-year history and to continue to ensure that Canadian waters are kept safe and that Canadian heritage remains strong.

I was able to participate in that announcement along with the Minister of Justice, and the day we made the announcement, stakeholders applauded the new investment.

I would like to quote Stephanie Smith, president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, who said:

We're extremely excited about this announcement today. It's an important first step in the long-term preservation of our historic lighthouse. We look forward to continuing to work with all levels of government and our community to make sure that this national treasure is taken care of for generations to come.

I would like to add a few more comments about the Sambro Island lighthouse. I commend the member for Halifax for bringing this piece of legislation forth, and I want to recognize my colleague who quarterbacked the original lighthouse preservation bill to give community groups the opportunity to actually have some say and control over the future of the lighthouses in their communities.

I want to recognize the Sambro Island group that has put a business plan together and is continuing to work on a business plan for the future of the lighthouse as it takes the lighthouse over. I want to recognize the past-president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, Barry MacDonald, for not only his hard work over the years but for his ongoing interest in making sure that the oldest lighthouse in the Americas continues to be protected.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

April 8th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to introduce my bill for the protection of Sambro Island lighthouse.

Sambro Island lighthouse is found off the coast of Nova Scotia at the mouth of the Halifax Harbour, just off the small, proud fishing community of Sambro. It was the earliest lighthouse built in North America, and it is the oldest continuously working lighthouse in the western hemisphere.

In 2010, the government declared almost 1,000 lighthouses surplus to its needs, meaning that Fisheries and Oceans would no longer have the responsibility to care for any of these lighthouses.

The community wants to protect the Sambro Island lighthouse. It is a piece of our history, our story, and it is an iconic structure for the area.

However, it is not realistic to assume that the community can take on the responsibility of this lighthouse, a lighthouse that is located on an island, in the Atlantic Ocean, a lighthouse that quickly becomes inaccessible due to weather or swells.

My bill would designate the Sambro Island lighthouse as a heritage lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, and put the responsibility for this iconic structure where it belongs, with Parks Canada.

I would like to thank the community members of Sambro and Ketch Harbour and area, and the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, who have worked so hard to draw attention to the fate of the Sambro Island lighthouse and tried to develop a community solution.

I would also like to recognize the work of Barry MacDonald, who has worked tirelessly to protect our lighthouses across the country and who continues to offer his expertise to our cause.

I hope that all members can recognize the importance of the Sambro Island lighthouse to Canada, to our country, and that they will support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)