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So Yah Wanna Buy a Lighthouse?

Last week I received a surprising email from my friend in China who informed me that the Point Atkinson lighthouse in West Vancouver is for sale for $200,000.00! As we had roamed about the area when we were kids the news certainly peaked my interest. How could such an iconic edifice dedicated to the well being of the local mariners be sold?

It all began in 1970 when the Feds decided to automate many lighthouses and decommission others that were deemed too expensive to maintain. By June 2010 it was believed that 1,000 lighthouses, including 480 active lighthouses were deemed surplus and should be decommissioned. There was a public outcry and worry that our coastline would be less protected but I don’t remember any vessels running aground, other than a BC Ferry running into an island and no lighthouse could have prevented that incident.  

Enter the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act which lets the Feds transfer the lighthouses to new owners who want to maintain the structure and develop the property into an economically viable business for the long term. So if you’ve always wanted to own a lighthouse now is the time.  

In keeping with the advance of technology, we hear that the Feds are closing down 3 Coast Guard Stations, Kitsilano, Comox and Ucluelet and moving marine communications and traffic services to Victoria and Prince Rupert. Clearly they have  more faith in computer technology than I have. With 27,000 km of coastline to monitor, only time will tell if their decisions are sensible.

In another ‘sign of the times’, the Feds have cut the contract for the Martin Mars water bomber  due to the ‘operational limitations’ of the plane even though the four-engine cargo transport seaplane has the largest payload capacity of water bombers in the world, carrying 27,276 litres of water and fire-suppressing foam. It is felt that there exist smaller more versatile water-scooping aircraft with fewer operational limitations than those associated with the Mars bomber. I’m certain that if you asked the citizens of Kelowna you wouldn’t hear any complaints pertaining to the Bomber’s  operational effectiveness.

I have never been completely happy with change of any kind but when it comes to the safety of the public I get nervous. It’s not that I don’t have faith in the Fed’s ability to make intelligent decisions, well…maybe…