BCLG HistoryIn May 2003, two residents of the Beach Strip approached the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the owners of the Light Station, to discuss placing the structures in preservation. Encouraged by the positive response of the DFO representatives, they began to organize what became the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group.
On November 16th, 2003, thirty two people attended a founding meeting. To date, over 200 have joined the group, including city councillors from both Hamilton and Burlington, engineers, artists, architects, members of local heritage organizations, and the last lighthouse keeper, Peter Coletti, now retired and living in New Brunswick. In June of 2004 the BCLG was incorporated by virtue of being accepted as an affiliate of the Ontario Historical Society.
Also in 2004, the federal department of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) declared the land on which the lighthouse and the keeper’s dwelling are located surplus to the needs of the Department and circulated a request for expressions of interest. Fisheries and Oceans was the only respondent and it was expected that the land would be transferred to DFO. As a result BCLG worked closely with DFO for the next two years to prepare for the eventual hand-on of the land and buildings from DFO to the non-profit group.
In August of 2004 BCLG approached the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario to obtain a professional evaluation of the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage through its Preservation Works program. Christopher Borgal and Eric Jokinen, architect and engineer respectively, undertook the work. The resulting Borgal-Jokinen Report indicated that the structures were fundamentally sound but listed a number of needed repairs, and recommended immediate steps to clear the lantern of an accumulation of pigeon guano and seal it to prevent further intrusion.
This work was carried out in 2006, with Fisheries and Oceans funding the entire cost of removing guano from the tower, and subsequently securing both buildings to prevent entry and vandalism.
At the same time the third-order Fresnel lens was removed from the lantern and placed in safe storage pending restoration of the tower.
David served for five years from 2003.
The anticipated land transfer from Public Works to Fisheries was never concluded, however, and in July 2006 PWGSC confirmed that they were not prepared to transfer ownership to a non-public-sector group such as BCLG (or to DFO for subsequent transfer to BCLG) but would consider a licensing agreement, during which BCLG could carry out the restoration of the buildings.
- At this point
BCLG directors determined to seek professional guidance in developing
a business plan for the site in order to seek partners acceptable
to PWGSC. The Lighthouse Group was able to obtain financial support
for this project from the City of Hamilton's Beach Park Reserve.
The Business Plan, prepared jointly by Goldsmith Borgal and Company and Canadian Cultural Resources Consultants and finalized in May 2009, contains recommendations for governance and appropriate ownership, and includes:
- Identification of options for sustainable public access to the site with recommendations for preferred options
- Alternative management structures based on each option
- Five-year business plans for each recommended option
- Costing of recommended approaches for preservation
The light station is designated by the City of Hamilton as a place of historic importance under the Ontario Heritage Act. On December 21, 2007, the anniversary of the illumination of the lantern, the BCLG received a plaque indicating this status from the City.
In November 2009 the BCLG presented the recommendations of the Business and Operations Plan to a committee of Hamilton City Council, and reached an important milestone in our project when the City agreed to begin the process of taking ownership of the light station site.
On Wednesday Nov. 25, 2009 Hamilton City Council accepted the Report of the Emergency and Community Services Committee meeting of November 18, 2009 and passed the following motion.
3. Beach Canal Light Station Operational Study and Heritage Building Assessment (CS09068) (Ward 5) (Item 7.4)
(a) That the Beach Canal Light Station Operational Study and Heritage Building Assessment (attached as Appendix A to Report CS09068), be received.
(b) That staff be directed to investigate the terms to transfer ownership of the Beach Lighthouse and Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage from the Federal Government to the City of Hamilton and report to Emergency & Community Services Committee.
(c) That staff be directed to apprise David Sweet, Minister of Parliament, of the status of the Beach Canal Lighthouse project and federal negotiations respecting same.
(d) That Councillor C. Collins be kept apprised of the project and be invited to attend meetings, with the Federal Government, respecting the Beach Canal Lighthouse project.
(e) That Item “F” – Beach Canal Lighthouse Group Presentation, be considered complete and removed from the Emergency & Community Services Committee’s Outstanding Business List.