Community support needed for lighthouse

By Jeremy Fraser
Sept. 17, 2015

When John Forley looks out the window at his home in Sydney Mines every morning he sees the Low Point Lighthouse.

“I know how much the lighthouse means to the community, and I know residents will support the cause.”

The lighthouse can be saved, said the 78-year-old former resident of New Waterford.

A local group has added the lighthouse to a crowd-funding and awareness campaign in hopes of raising money for the historic lighthouse.

The Low Point Lighthouse Society joined the initiative Sept. 11. This Lighthouse Matters was launched by the National Trust for Canada and the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society.

Debbie Lee Pearson is the director of the Low Point Lighthouse Society. It’s not just about winning the competition, it would raise awareness about lighthouses, she said.

“I don’t think the majority of people realize that almost all lighthouses across Canada are at risk. It’s about awareness and recognition about how valuable lighthouses are to communities.”

In recent years, the Low Point Lighthouse Society applied for heritage status for the lighthouse, but it has yet to receive it, said Pearson.

“We haven’t obtained heritage status this year, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to acquire any federal funding at some point in the near future.”

The property is owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In 2010, the department declared almost all of Nova Scotia’s lighthouses surplus.

If granted heritage status, the lighthouse would be the responsibility of Parks Canada.

Long-term goals for the area include taking advantage of the site’s tourism potential such as expanding the lighthouse grounds to possible accommodate cottages.

Pauline MacDougall has lived in New Victoria all her life. She use to visit the lighthouse as a child with her grandfather. Today, she visits with her grandchildren.

“I enjoy taking my grandchildren to the lighthouse in the summer. The kids love the sight and hearing the stories I have from my childhood.”

The lighthouse isn’t just about the community of New Victoria, said Pearson.

“Cruise ships come into Sydney Harbour and the lighthouse is the first thing they see. What a beautiful welcome. It’s also the last thing they see when they leave Sydney.”

“North Sydney, Sydney Mines, New Waterford, and New Victoria all can see the lighthouse. It’s not just about the New Victoria community.”

The Low Point Lighthouse Society has planned a competition rally to support the vote. Rallies scheduled in communities across Cape Breton Regional Municipality including New Waterford.

Residents could cast their vote during the rallies, said Pearson.

“It’s extremely important for people get behind us and show their support. People need to vote, vote, vote, or we are not going to get anything.”

Voting ends Oct. 1.