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NLPS looking to acquire lighthouse property

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

The project to restore the Nottawasaga Lighthouse might become a little bigger for the volunteer group looking after the restoration.

After a conference call to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) offices in Winnipeg and Ottawa, the Nottawasaga Lighthouse Preservation Society (NLPS) has initiated the procedures to transfer the lighthouse over to them.

“The (DFO) have a number of things that they have to do and we have a number of things that we have to do, a financial plan has to be submitted. They have to be assured that we can restore the lighthouse and once it is restored that we will be able to maintain it going forward,” says Robert Square of the NLPS. “And because of the condition of the light as it stands right now, we have to produce a comprehensive safety plan to make sure that nobody gets hurt. They have liability/safety on the brain at the DFO.”

Square was encouraged by the conversations that they have had with the ministry and is hopeful that, if everything goes well, they should have an answer by the end of the year.

If successful, the whole process will go over to the public works real estate division where they will treat it as a typical real estate transaction, Square said.

Work to try and minimize the damage from water began last fall, when the group tried to shrink-wrap the structure in plastic. An October storm shredded the first effort and the group redid the work using a more dense material.

“The wrapping is still hanging in there. The new wrapping that we put on there is essentially like truck tarps and is fiberglass reinforced so it is a lot stronger than the product that we put on before,” says Square

Part of the negotiations is doing work on the lighthouse. After the work last fall, there are still some things that needs to be finished.

The wrap is only on to the top of the stone, so they need to seal up the walkway around the gallery, stones are cracked and water is seeping in, Square said.

“So we have to have to seal up around there and also where the lantern comes into the stone and repair some broken windows,” he says. “There are a few things that need to be done to really seal the tower, in that whole mix the interior of the tower albeit safe, there is no shifting, warping or cracking. There is a lot of dirt, mold, lead paint and animal carcasses and feces, there is quite a toxic mix in there. We even had a raccoon living in there a year or two ago.”

It all takes money and local artist Andrew Paycha’s painting of the lighthouse is the most recent fundraising effort.

A series of 200 signed prints of the painting are for sale at $125 each to support NLPS and the sale will be launched March 28 at the Huron Club. The prints are also available at the Georgian Frame Gallery at the Crow’s Nest in Collingwood and at the Loft Gallery in Thornbury.

In the meantime, work goes on to restore the 160-year-old structure.

“We are coming at it from various angles, we have changed our tact a little bit, initially we were talking about the tower and the DFO were going to give us an easement to the tower, when we talked with them last week we asked how about the whole island. And they were very receptive to that,” says Square. ”They have been very co-operative with us.” 

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