PARRSBORO - If the local lighthouse is to be preserved, it will take a community effort, according to Mayor Lois Smith.
Smith declared at town council's Feb. 28 monthly session that the landmark beacon is set to be unloaded by the federal government, and that a combined effort of various community organizations is needed to keep it as part of the town's cultural identity.
"I think it's important that we do preserve our lighthouse," said Smith, who also chairs the Parrsboro Harbour Commission. "I'd like to call a public meeting of interested representatives from various groups. Maybe, if we joined forces, we could take it upon ourselves to take over the lighthouse, with conditions."
The Parrsboro lighthouse, along with all other Cumberland County lighthouses and many more in Nova Scotia, was identified as surplus property by Fisheries and Oceans Canada one year ago.
The harbour commission was approached some time ago by the federal department about taking over the lighthouse, but declined at the time due to the cost of liability insurance, according to the mayor. Since then, she said she has learned that the harbour commission could add the lighthouse to the insurance it now has on the wharf property, for "probably a little less" than what another individual group could get it for.
"If we ask the federal government to make it a heritage lighthouse... with a business plan... at least they won't tear it down, because it's such an icon for tourists," said Smith.
The mayor said she would be contacting the leaders of various organizations in town about holding a meeting and seeing if there is enough interest to put forth a group effort to save the lighthouse.
"I don't feel at this time that town council wants to take it over as part of the town," said Smith. "I think we all need to work together on this, and I think it would be beneficial to us all."
She said that there is time to put a plan together, but that work needs to be started on it this year.
Fire Chief Randy Mosher, who was in attendance at the council meeting, said he had experience working with the lighthouse divestiture issue in his previous career with Public Works Canada. He offered to sit in and offer any helpful information he could at any meeting that gets arranged.
Mosher advised that any approach toward heritage status emphasize the value of the site, not the lighthouse itself.
"I would suggest the heritage value of the structure there now would pale in comparison to its function," he said. "The former building that was there would be much easier to achieve the designation with. The ones that have been there for 200 years are very easy to put a plaque on and get the designation. This building is built of concrete block basically. The structure itself is not where you hang your hat; you hang it on what its meant to the coastline and the harbour."