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.