Nova Scotia

Decades-old Cape Breton lighthouse at risk from soil erosion

A decades-old Cape Breton lighthouse is at risk from soil erosion on the banks of Sydney harbour.

Low Point Lighthouse has been a shining beacon for mariners since 1936

A new seawall could cost $400,000 to save the old lighthouse, according to an engineering study completed several years ago by Dillon Consulting. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A decades-old Cape Breton lighthouse is at risk from soil erosion on the banks of Sydney harbour.

Low Point lighthouse has been a shining beacon for mariners since 1936, but over the years its surrounding wooden boardwalk has been beaten to pieces by wind and waves.

The lighthouse itself is inching close to the cliff edge as soil gives way.

Some neighbours and visitors are concerned, including Rob Grezel, who lives close to the lighthouse.

"It's eroding faster as time goes on," Grezel said. He estimated the lighthouse is less than 10 metres from the edge of the bank.

"Almost every time you go down there you can see a little bit more erosion taking place and slowly creeping in, it's quite perilous really."

Lawrence MacSween, a member of the Low Point Lighthouse Society, says the lighthouse is at risk of falling over the bank. (Submitted by Rob Grezel)

Lawrence MacSween with the Low Point Lighthouse Society said the group, which aims to preserve the lighthouse, is "desperate for help."

"We are at a point now where the structure is at risk of actually falling over the bank," he said.

"We had a breakwater that did protect from wave action, but since that structure is no longer there, now it's the groundwater that's the problem. It's eroding fast."

An engineering study done several years ago by Dillon Consulting pegs the cost of a new seawall at $400,000.

'It's the 11th hour for this lighthouse'

MacSween said they need government help with that cost.

"We're at a point now where we need someone to step in and say, 'Here's some funds, let's see what we can do to stop the erosion,' which is the threat right now," he said.

MacSween is arranging a meeting about the lighthouse with both Members of Parliament in Cape Breton next week.

"This may be our last hope," he said. "The potential for the site is endless. It's the first thing people see when they come into this harbour.

"It's frustrating to see what's taking place there now. It's the 11th hour for this lighthouse and we really need some action taken."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

George Mortimer is a longtime reporter in Cape Breton.

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