Coastal community getting new lighthouse that looks like century-old predecessor | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Coastal community getting new lighthouse that looks like century-old predecessor

Prefabricated parts used in building a lighthouse are shown in a handout photo. A lighthouse will be built on the south side of Sambro harbour at Bull Point within the next five weeks by the Coast Guard using similar components. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Coast Guard MANDATORY CREDIT
May 31, 2016 - 1:55 PM

HALIFAX - The demolition of a century-old lighthouse in a small, coastal community would usually amount to glum news in Nova Scotia.

But you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who will miss the battered beacon on the south side of Sambro harbour.

Local residents were overjoyed Tuesday when they learned that the small, wooden tower — torn down Monday — will be replaced by the Canadian Coast Guard with a new model that will look very much like the original, quaint structure.

Leslie Harnish, president of the Sambro and Area Community Association, lives just down the road from the old light — not to be confused with its much older, larger cousin on nearby Sambro Island.

"It was quite an eyesore and a bit of an embarrassment," she said of the now-demolished structure, adding that her great-grandfather used to fill out the weather logs kept inside at the turn of the century.

The rotting, nine-metre tower lost its dilapidated lantern room years ago, but as an active aid to navigation it still had an exposed light to guide mariners home.

"We're lucky that they're putting a building back there rather than just a pole with a light," said Harnish. "(But) it's not just nostalgia. It's serving a navigational purpose."

Coast guard spokesman Dan Pike said the new lighthouse will be designed in the original salt-shaker style with a red cupola. However, he said the decision to recreate a classic, tapered tower has nothing to do with making the lighthouse aesthetically pleasing.

"It's not because it's a nice tourist thing," he from his office in St. John's, N.L. "When something starts getting ugly looking, it's not the first priority for us. If it's still functioning, that's our priority."

The new structure — to be built over a simple, lightweight aluminum frame — must maintain a significant profile from three angles to ensure mariners can see it during the day. And the new building will likely be clad in tough, low-maintenance vinyl siding that looks almost identical to traditional, white cedar shingles.

Had mariners said they needed to see only one side of the structure or just the light at night, the coast guard would have built an austere skeleton tower, which has been the case for many lighthouse locations, Pike said.

In 2010, the federal Fisheries Department declared more than 900 lighthouses across Canada as surplus property, raising concerns about the country's marine heritage.

Pike said the move may have left people with the mistaken impression that the coast guard was getting out of the lighthouse business.

"Every one that still has a light is an important aid to navigation," he said. "What it meant was that many of the structures out there are a bit of overkill for what we need today ... (But) we still have to provide lights to mariners."

He said the recent federal budget provided much-needed infrastructure funds for the coast guard, which recognizes that many lighthouses "have become eyesores." The federal agency is now using the money to fix or replace some of the most decrepit sites.

The Sambro Island lighthouse, built in 1758, it is awaiting a multimillion-dollar repair job that was announced last May.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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