Friday, November 12, 2010

Lighthouse Study Comes To British Columbia

Senate Committee
Comes To West Coast
To Study De-Staffing

The Senate Committee studying the issue of de-staffing lighthouses will be holding meetings in BC from Nov. 16 - 20, 2010.

They will be in Victoria on Nov. 16, Nanaimo Nov.17, Campbell River Nov. 18, Prince Rupert Nov. 19 and Prince Rupert/Vancouver on Nov. 20, 2010.

 Nov. 12 Update

The meeting locations are now being made public:

Victoria Nov. 16
Inn at Laurel Point
680 Montreal St. Victoria
4:00 pm onwards

Nanaimo Nov. 17
Best Western Dorchester
70 Church St. Nanaimo
4:00 pm onwards

Campbell River Nov. 18
Campbell River Heritage Centre
621 Island Highway
4:00 pm onwards

Prince Rupert Nov. 19
Prince Rupert location TBA

Prince Rupert / Vancouver Nov. 20
Prince Rupert meetings 9:00 am onwards
location TBA

Vancouver Meetings Nov. 20
Fairmont Vancouver Airport
3111 Grant McConachie Way
5:00 pm onwards

The general public may attend these meetings, however you will need to make an appointment if you wish to make a presentation to the committee. So if you would like to make a presentation you should contact:

Danielle Labonte
Committee Clerk,
Ph. 613-949-4379

De-staffing Of BC Light Stations

This issue has been coming up on the coast since 1985 when the Trudeau government first thought the idea of removing people from lighthouses and replacing them with automated equipment was a good idea. The program has been embraced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who keep bringing the issue to the fore every few years or so, presenting it as a cost saving measure.

Opponents of the program say that the DFO numbers supporting the cost benefit of the program are simply flawed, For example while DFO quotes the cost of operating the 27 manned light stations at anywhere from $10 - $20 million, those supporting the manned stations claim a total cost would of $4.2 million.

The cost to convert a 'simple' light station is in the area of $250,000, but this cost can easily double depending upon location. Replacement batteries for these stations are in the order of $24,000 and have to be replaced after a few years of operation. Add to this the cost of flying in maintenance crews to maintain the units, and the total costs of operation can become substantial in short order.

DFO also fails to provide hard numbers as to the actual cost of conversion and maintenance of the de-staffed stations and fail to recognize the benefit of having a real person manning these remote stations which have benefited mariners for decades.Updated weather observations is just one of the benefits of having a pair of eyes on the weather as fully automated weather stations are far from infallible.

Spokeman for the Canadian Lightkeepers Association, Jim Abram says this will be the third time since 1985 that their group has engaged the powers from DFO and Ottawa on the matter of de-staffing the coastal light stations. He is hopeful that the matter of staffing lighthouses will be removed from the umbrella of the DFO and put under the ministry of public safety, which is where it belongs.

Abrams, also points out the importance of having a manned, Canadian presence at these strategic locations as it relates to Canadian claims of sovereignty.


1 comment:

  1. No one in the public forum should be excluded and make an appointment to make your voice known.
    the Seantors promised an open and impartial view ..doesnt seem like we are getting that .
    Please call or email ASAP and help keep lightstations staffed .
    Remember YOUR NANAIMO ENTRANCE ISLAND WILL BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO GO ...lets help stop that, call or email today ...don't let the bueracrats win.If you can't get an appointment find out where it is and go anyway to show your support .



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