ARICHAT: The Canadian Coast Guard now has community support to replace another lighthouse in the area.
During a public meeting on October 3 in Arichat, residents approved a proposal, endorsed by the Isle Madame Lighthouse Preservation Society, for the Coast Guard to erect a new structure at Marache Point.
The proposal did not pass without debate as one resident pointed to her family’s long history living and working at the lighthouse situated at the end of Cap Auguet Road.
Nancy LeBlanc of Arichat asked why the existing structure could not be restored to its original condition.
“We should preserve lighthouses, not replace them,” LeBlanc said at the meeting.
Society chair Marg Herdman explained that while it was not in great shape already, the building suffered more damage over the summer. She said the Coast Guard agreed to replace it with a modular structure similar to that on Jerseyman’s Island, also in Arichat harbour.
Faced with a quote of more than $50,000 to fix the building and limited resources to immediately undertake the work needed, Herdman said the society decided a new building was the best option.
“It’s an icon,” Herdman said of the historic lighthouse.
“Personally, I’d like it to remain as a wooden structure but who’s going to pay for that?”
One of those options is a beacon, which is cheaper to run and quicker to construct, but not something the community wants or needs, she noted.
“If we can’t preserve the building as is, the next best thing is to have a vision of it, as opposed to have it totally gone,” Herdman said.
“It’s not just getting torn down and left there.”
Herdman said it could take the society a decade or more to assume ownership of the building.
“If we owned the building, we could choose to do what we want to do, but 20 years from now.”
As a result of the consensus reached, Herdman notified the Coast Guard they can proceed with planning. As for a timeline, she expects it will take a year to have the new lighthouse constructed.
At the conclusion of the meeting, LeBlanc was emotional when talking about the Marache Point lighthouse.
“All my roots are there,” she told the meeting.
“I spent every day out there… It means a lot to me…”