Blocked road to Cape Tryon lighthouse could soon reopen

People may soon be able drive down the dirt road leading to Cape Tryon lighthouse. Two years ago, the lane was blocked off by the farmer who owns the road and the surrounding farmland.

Farmer says road so bad people drive over his crops rather than risk their undercarriage

The Cape Tryon lighthouse, next to Wayne Cousins' fields, is a popular tourism destination. (CBC)

People may soon be able drive down the dirt road leading to Cape Tryon lighthouse, one of the most iconic in the province.

Two years ago, the lane was blocked off by the farmer who owns the road and the surrounding farmland. Wayne Cousins said the road was in such bad shape that people were driving over his crops to get to the lighthouse, instead of using the road.

Under an agreement signed with the former landowner in 1905, the federal government has the right to use the road to maintain its lighthouse.

The road is in such poor shape people were driving over his fields, says Wayne Cousins. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has previously said the condition of the road is good enough for its employees to use. DFO said it's not its job to maintain the road for the public. 

But Cousins said cars trying to get to the lighthouse would scrape bottom in the deep ruts.  

"Anyone to go down with a car, it's not in good shape."

Cousins said that's why he put a padlocked chain across the lane. 

Ongoing discussions

Cousins said he got nowhere with the previous Conservative government, so he turned to Wayne Easter, the Liberal MP for Malpeque.  

Wayne Cousins says he is not convinced his road will be fixed. (CBC)

"Mr Cousins certainly has a legitimate complaint. That road was not kept in good repair," said Easter.

"We've tried to get that road shaled so that people that want to view the lighthouse would take the road. Instead, they're driving in Mr Cousins' fields. One year I went up and looked and new fields seeded with alfalfa — a very expensive crop to seed — had car tracks and truck tracks down through it, so he has every right to be frustrated and angry over the way this road has been handled."

Easter said he's pleased his discussions with the federal government about fixing the road seem to be going well. But he added it's not a done deal.

Not over till it's over

"I've learned in this political field to never say it's a done deal 'til it is a done deal, but my expectations are that we're making progress and we may find a solution in the not-too-distant future," he said.

"I would certainly like to have an agreement that the road would be looked after during the summer months, and that you could drive down it with a car and wouldn't have to take a four-wheel drive." 

Easter said discussions are ongoing.

Liberal MP Wayne Easter said Cousins has a legitimate complaint. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

"So there's willingness to try to find a solution here, whether money would be transferred to somebody else to shale and grade that road," he said. "I'm actually pleased where they are compared to where they were two years ago."  

But Cousins is not convinced his road will be fixed.  

"Well, it sounds better, but I've heard them stories before."

Cousins will block new owners until road fixed

Cousins hasn't yet put up the chain this year, but he said the moment someone drives on his field, the chain will go up again.

He said he doesn't mind if people walk down his one kilometre lane to visit the lighthouse, but no one will drive down until the road is fixed, and that includes the new owners of the lighthouse, the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust. The group took over ownership last week.

"I told them that last fall. If they're going down there, they're going to walk," said Cousins.  

Bill Bishop, president of the land trust, said he's hoping Cousins and DFO can reach an agreement soon, so that the road can be fixed to make it easier for people to get down to the lighthouse.

CBC reached out to Fisheries and Oceans on the issue, but the department declined comment except to say the transfer process is under way for the Cape Tryon lighthouse, as well as others.