Frequently asked questions
Questions? We have answers.
What is the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act?
The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act is a law designed to protect lighthouses owned by the federal government that have significant heritage value. The Act protects the heritage character of designated lighthouses and requires that they be reasonably maintained. Subject to certain conditions, heritage lighthouses may be sold or transferred to other levels of government, to not-for-profit community organizations, or to individuals in order to promote new uses and to ensure their long-term protection.
How did lighthouses become nominated for heritage designation?
A public petition process was established to enable residents of Canada to nominate lighthouses important to them for designation. The petition process ran for two years, from 29 May 2010 to 29 May 2012. Petitions had to specify which lighthouse was being nominated and be signed by at least 25 residents of Canada 18 years of age or older. Any lighthouse in Canada owned by the federal government was eligible to be nominated for designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act.
How are heritage lighthouses designated?
Heritage lighthouses are designated by the Minister of the Environment on the advice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. A lighthouse will be recommended for designation when it meets the established historical, architectural and community value criteria. The criteria for designation are based on nationally and internationally recognized heritage evaluation criteria and are designed to help evaluators to identify and articulate a lighthouse’s heritage character.
A lighthouse that has been determined to be surplus to the operational requirements of Fisheries and Oceans Canada can be designated only if a person or body commits to buy or otherwise acquire the lighthouse and protect its heritage character.
More detailed information on the designation process can be found on our Evaluation & Designation page.
What is the timeline for the designation of nominated lighthouses?
The Minister of the Environment will consider for designation those lighthouses for which a public petition was received between May 29, 2010 and May 29, 2012. Lighthouses for which a petition was received must be considered for designation by May 29, 2015.
How long is the designation process?
Planning for heritage lighthouse designations is challenging because the designation of surplus lighthouses is contingent upon Fisheries and Oceans Canada finalizing a written commitment with a third party to acquire and protect the lighthouses; it is difficult to predict when these agreements will be concluded. While it is difficult to predict with certainty how long the designation process will take, particularly for surplus lighthouses, the Act stipulates that each petition must have been evaluated and any resulting designation made no later than May 29, 2015.
What are Surplus lighthouses? Can they be designated?
Surplus lighthouses are lighthouses that the federal government, particularly, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has determined to be surplus to its operational requirements.
A surplus lighthouse that meets the established designation criteria can be designated if a person or body commits to buy or otherwise acquire the lighthouse and protect its heritage character. Proposals to acquire and protect surplus lighthouses are evaluated through DFO’s business plan process. A surplus lighthouse is typically evaluated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada after DFO accepts a business plan as the basis to negotiate a sale or transfer agreement.
How do I purchase a surplus lighthouse?
DFO is responsible for negotiating the sale or transfer agreements for the surplus lighthouses under its administration. To facilitate finding a new owner, DFO established a business plan process to evaluate proposals to acquire and protect a heritage lighthouse. Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, a surplus lighthouse can only be designated if the new owner can safeguard its heritage character in the future. It requires a written commitment from a person or body to buy or otherwise acquire and protect the lighthouse before it is designated as a heritage lighthouse. For more information on acquiring a surplus lighthouse, please contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada by e-mail at Hlpafirstname.lastname@example.org.
What are not surplus lighthouses? Can they be designated?
Not surplus lighthouses are those that are not surplus to federal operational requirements and will stay in the federal inventory.
A not surplus lighthouse can be designated and there is no need to have a written commitment to acquire and protect before a not surplus lighthouse is designated.
Why is it important to protect lighthouses?
Lighthouses have long symbolized strength, safety and safe harbour, and for that reason the Government of Canada decided to take legislative action to protect them for the future.
What are the ongoing responsibilities for a group after taking ownership of a heritage lighthouse?
New owners will be required to respect the heritage character of the heritage lighthouse and of any related buildings that are included in the designation.
The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act requires that any sale or transfer of a heritage lighthouse provide for the protection of its heritage character. There are a variety of legal tools to achieve this and the type of protection will vary depending upon the location of the lighthouse. All private owners of heritage lighthouses will be encouraged to adopt the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada (PDF, 10.4 Mb) to guide their conservation efforts.
What is the role of Parks Canada Agency?
Parks Canada’s primary role under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act consists of receiving petitions on behalf of the Minister of the Environment and assisting the Minister and her Advisory Committee (the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada) in the designation and protection of heritage lighthouses.
Are Parks Canada’s lighthouses eligible for designation?
Yes. Parks Canada administers 11 lighthouses, all of which have been nominated for heritage lighthouse designation. They are used for various program requirements, including interpretation, visitor facilities and the protection of species at risk. None of the Parks Canada administered lighthouses will be made surplus. Below is the list of the 11 lighthouses.
- Active Pass Lightstation (within Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada), BC
- Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse and Blockhouse National Historic Site of Canada, ON
- Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada, NL
- East Point Lightstation (within Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada), BC
- Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada, BC
- Flowerpot Island Lightstation (within Fathom Five National Marine Conservation Area of Canada), ON
- Point Clark Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada, ON
- Pointe-au-Père Lighthouses National Historic Site of Canada, QC
- Portlock Point Lightstation (within Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada), BC
- Prince Edward Point Lighthouse (within Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area), ON
- Windmill Lighthouse (Battle of the Windmill National Historic Site of Canada), ON
What are the Heritage Lighthouse Program’s key dates?
What if I have a question not listed here?
You are welcome to contact the Heritage Lighthouse Program office for any questions you may have.