The Canadian government has announced that the remaining Canadian lighthouse keepers will stay at its 50 staffed lighthouses, hopefully ending once and for all the controversial plan by the Canadian Coast Guard to remove the last of its keepers.
Not only is this welcome news for lighthouse preservationists worldwide, the announcement is a testament to the many Canadians from all walks of life who lobbied and testified at hearings on both coasts telling government politicians how vital it is to stop removing lighthouse keepers and keep the last manned lighthouses as staffed stations.
Citing public safety over cost cutting measures, Vancouver Island MP John Duncan said, “Light stations and light keepers . . . are an icon and important for safety, sovereignty and science.”
He went on to talk about the importance of the many staffed lighthouses that are in extremely remote locations where the lighthouse keeper is the only human link for close-at-hand rescues and communication to civilization. Duncan said, “The committee can only conclude that staffed light stations and light keepers play a key role in public safety, and that any cost savings realized from de-staffing lighthouses will come at a very high price – that is the risk of loss of life.”
However, it is unclear how this decision will affect the Canadian Coast Guard’s plan to dispose of nearly 1,000 of its lighthouses by transfer or outright sale. Also, after elections, new government leadership could change the decision and the battle would have to be fought all over again. But, for the time being, the lighthouse keepers will stay. Let’s hope this becomes a permanent decision.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2011 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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