British Columbia

Lighthouse de-staffing program cancelled by DFO

The federal government has cancelled its plans to de-staff 50 lighthouses in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea announced on Wednesday.

The federal government has cancelled its plans to de-staff 50 lighthouses in British Columbia and  Newfoundland and Labrador, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea announced on Wednesday.

Shea said the decision followed a Senate committee report in December that recommended halting the plan.

"Our government recognizes both the significance of lighthouses and light-keeper services to the coastal communities they now serve, as well as the important role the Canadian Coast Guard plays in keeping mariners safe," said Shea in a statement.

"Therefore, I have instructed Canadian Coast Guard officials to respect the report and immediately halt plans to remove light-keepers from currently staffed lighthouses in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador," she said.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says there are 23 staffed lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 27 in British Columbia. Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan said coast guard officials will immediately halt all de-staffing plans.

"The government's priority is about public safety and this is all about a government priority," Duncan said.

Lighthouse keepers welcome news

Former Mudge Island, B.C., lighthouse keeper Jim Abrams welcomed the news.

"I just can't tell you how emotional this … it's pretty incredible," Abrams said after hearing the news.

As a member of the Canadian Lighthouse Keepers Association, Abrams has been fighting plans to de-staff the lighthouse for the past 25 years. Now, he says, the public voice has finally been heard.

"The public has spoken loud and clear and said, 'No, it is a stupid idea. There is no cost savings, the services are absolutely needed and you cannot de-staff them,' and the minister listened," he said.