Buildings on Baccalieu Island to be demolished
Tender put out for demolition project
Baccalieu Island may be getting a bit of a makeover in the near future.
Originally issued in August of this year, a 48-page project report prepared by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Real Property Safety and Security, outlines the goals of a demolition project for the Baccalieu Island lightstation site, which aims to demolish surplus infrastructure in the area.
In the project description, the document outlines a proposal to clean up the island, removing any possible health hazards the infrastructure on the island may pose to both DFO employees, as well as visitors to the site.
“There is a level of environmental risk due to the presence
of hazardous materials as well as the fact that the Baccalieu Islands provide habitat for a variety of migratory birds,” the document states.
The cleanup is said to involve the removal of surplus infrastructure that exists on the island.
Baccalieu Island is located several kilometres off the coast of Bay de Verde. Although no longer inhabited, Baccalieu Island once housed two brick lighthouses standing at approximately 11-metres.
Today, both lighthouses are reinforced by iron walls, and are automated, rather than manual, as was the case for about a century, beginning with the buildings’ original construction in 1858.
Since the island has long been uninhabited, public consultation was deemed unnecessary.
Richard Walsh is a former resident of Bay de Verde, who pays close attention to the goings on in the community with hopes of keeping residents informed through his Facebook page, Vintage Bay de Verde, where he shares stories and photos of the community from both the past and the present.
Walsh posted a series of videos and photos following his discovery of the tender document. In an interview with The Compass, Walsh said he felt no ill will toward government for their decision to demolish the old buildings.
“Is it disappointing? Yes, of course,” said Walsh. “But it’s important to remember that these structures have not been in use for quite some time now. They hold historical value, certainly, but can also be hazardous to anyone who makes a trip out to Baccalieu Island. The buildings are old, dilapidated, and there’s no doubt there are some health hazards there, such as asbestos.”
Baccalieu Island is not easily visited, however. Steep cliffs serve as barriers to anyone wishing to make the journey to the five-square-kilometre island via boat, and those that do manage to scale the cliffs will still be met with unpredictable terrain once on the island.
The document states, however, that workers will be flown to the site via helicopter, and will not need to worry about sea travel.
“I believe that, although a disappointing one, this decision came as a means to protect government from future liability issues,” said Walsh. “That makes sense to me, because even though it can be difficult to get out there, it’s not impossible, and people are going to do it. If someone gets there and decides to explore these old buildings, and gets hurt, then who’s going to get the blame? The government.”
The tender was put out in August of 2017, and states that work is expected to commence in the fiscal year of 2017-2018.
Baccalieu Island was originally home to several families, most notably the Ryan family, who helped maintain and operate the lighthouses in the late 1800s to early 1900s.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has demolition work planned for Baccalieu Island.