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.