KEEP­ERS OF THE LIGHT

So­ci­ety work­ing to make Syd­ney har­bour’s only light­house part of new tourism route

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEREMY FRASER jeremy.fraser@cb­post.com

Group wants Syd­ney har­bour’s only light­house on new tourism route.

An his­toric light­house may soon be­come a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for tourists vis­it­ing the Cape Bre­ton.

The Low Point Light­house So­ci­ety is aim­ing to make the light­house part of a new tourism route that will fea­ture stops in Whit­ney Pier, Vic­to­ria Mines, New Vic­to­ria and New Waterford.

Deb­bie Lee Pear­son, di­rec­tor of the so­ci­ety, said the new route will have a lot to of­fer visi­tors.

“The vi­sion is one where tourists can en­joy the Whit­ney Pier His­toric Mu­seum, the Stone Church, Fort Petrie, Low Point light­house and Col­liery Lands Park,” she said. “Each venue has some­thing unique to of­fer and paints a clear pic­ture of our col­lec­tive cul­tural iden­tity. Most peo­ple seem to be com­pletely un­aware of Syd­ney har­bour’s rich his­tory and her­itage.”

The Low Point light­house has been in oper­a­tion since 1832, lo­cated at the east­ern en­trance to Syd­ney har­bour in New Vic­to­ria. The light­house is rec­og­nized as a her­itage build­ing by the Fed­eral Her­itage Build­ing Re­view of­fice.

Pear­son said the light­house is an im­por­tant part of the New Vic­to­ria com­mu­nity.

“New Vic­to­ria would not be New Vic­to­ria with­out the Low Point Light­house, just as Syd­ney har­bour wouldn’t be Syd­ney har­bour with­out its one and only his­toric light­house,” she said. “It’s greatly trea­sured by lo­cals and tourists alike.”

Pear­son said tourism has be­come an eco­nomic life­line for Cape Bre­ton, and with the ad­di­tion of a sec­ond cruise ship berth in Syd­ney, tourism will only in­crease.

“Since tourists want the per­fect photo-op and an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence, we feel that Low Point light­house will be­come a pre­mier des­ti­na­tion for tourists to en­joy,” said the New Vic­to­ria res­i­dent. “We have ma­jor plans for this venue, but first things first.”

The long-term goal for the so­ci­ety is to have a camp­ground, RV park, and two to three cot­tages near the light­house lo­ca­tion. How­ever, the com­mit­tee is tak­ing things one step at a time.

Pear­son said other work needed on site will in­clude park­ing lots, in­ter­pre­tive pan­els, as well as road sig­nage to direct visi­tors to the lo­ca­tion.

In July 2015, Low Point light­house won $75,000 through the on­line con­test This Light­house Mat­ters, an on­line crowd-fund­ing com­pe­ti­tion cre­ated by the Na­tional Trust for Canada and the Nova Sco­tia Light­house Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety.

“Our so­ci­ety, along with the Na­tional Trust for Canada and the Nova Sco­tia Light­house Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety, have been care­fully weigh­ing our op­tions,” said Pear­son. “Af­ter very care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion on how best to hon­our the light­house, the $75,000 prize money will be used to pay for light­house struc­tural re­pairs and re­fur­bish­ment.”

The light­house is in need of ex­ten­sive re­pairs. The struc­ture’s con­crete ex­te­rior is rid­dled with swaths of miss­ing con­crete and su­per­fi­cial cracks. The light­house also needs paint­ing as well as three new steel doors and new glass panes near the lan­tern.

“The light­house was badly van­dal­ized about 15 year ago,” said Pear­son. “Van­dals kicked out al­most ev­ery one of the lan­tern’s orig­i­nal curved glass panes. Lexan panes were in­stalled, but these have ox­i­dized and yel­lowed with time.”

The Cape Bre­ton Post had the op­por­tu­nity on Satur­day to tour the in­side of the light­house. The in­te­rior of the in­side re­mains in fairly good con­di­tion, con­sid­er­ing the age of the struc­ture. It takes five flights of steep stairs to reach the light­house’s lan­tern, which is also in good con­di­tion.

“Our over­all goal is to bring this his­toric light­house back to its for­mer pris­tine, ma­jes­tic beauty and grandeur for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” said Pear­son.

Aside from the struc­ture re­pairs, she said a new sea­wall must be con­structed to pro­tect against the rapid ero­sion of the shore­line.

“We are in a race against time,” said Pear­son. “It’s been es­ti­mated that Low Point Light­house has only four more years be­fore the shore­line ero­sion com­pro­mises its struc­tural in­tegrity.

“Deemed sur­plus by the DFO (Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans Canada), it will be torn down and re­placed with a steel rod and light if we don’t se­cure the fund­ing re­quired to build a new sea­wall — we don’t plan on let­ting that hap­pen.” said Pear­son.

A new sea­wall is es­ti­mated at a cost of $400,000.

The sea­wall en­gi­neer­ing as­sess­ments and shore­line pro­tec­tion study has yet to be writ­ten, but the so­ci­ety is ex­pect­ing the light­house struc­tural as­sess­ment re­port to­day.

Pear­son said the so­ci­ety has re­ceived the nec­es­sary fund­ing for both the light­house struc­tural as­sess­ment re­port as well as the sea­wall and shore­line pro­tec­tion study.

“Our so­ci­ety is pay­ing half the cost for the struc­tural as­sess­ment with do­nated funds re­ceived through the crowd­fund­ing cam­paign, and the CBRM is pay­ing the other half,” she said. “The sea­wall en­gi­neer­ing as­sess­ment and shore­line study is be­ing fully funded by the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.”

The to­tal cost for the struc­tural as­sess­ment is $3,450, while the sea­wall as­sess­ment and the shore­line study costs $7,187.50.

Re­pairs to the light­house it­self will be­gin in the spring and the so­ci­ety is hop­ing to have them fin­ished be­fore the sum­mer months, the peak of tourism sea­son.

JEREMY FRASER/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Mem­bers of the Low Point Light­house So­ci­ety stand for a pic­ture by the his­toric light­house lan­tern on Satur­day. The so­ci­ety is work­ing to have the light­house as part of a new Cape Bre­ton tourism route. From left, are Danielle MacSween, Deb­bie Lee Pear­son, Rob Mur­phy and Lawrence MacSween.

CAPE BRE­TON POST

The Low Point light­house in New Vic­to­ria is seen in this file photo. The Low Point Light­house So­ci­ety is work­ing to make the light­house part of a new Cape Bre­ton tourism route, trav­el­ling along High­way 28 from Whit­ney Pier to New Waterford.

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