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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Fisheries

Issue 10 - Evidence, September 19, 2000


OTTAWA, Tuesday, September 19, 2000

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries, to which was referred Bill S-21, to protect heritage lighthouses, met this day at 7:00 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Gerald J. Comeau (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: I wish to welcome our witnesses on Bill C-21, to protect heritage lighthouses.

Our first witnesses are the Honourable J. Michael Forrestall and the Honourable Pat Carney, PC, the sponsors of the bill. If you have any opening comments, please proceed.

Hon. J. Michael Forrestall: Honourable senators, I am honoured to be here. With me tonight is Mr. Joe Varner, my principal policy and research assistant.

Hon. Pat Carney: With me is Ms Tracy Bellefontaine from Nova Scotia who is working for a B.C. senator. She is working with Mr. Varner on this bill. She shows an equal ability to pick up on West Coast concerns as she does on East Coast concerns. I am pleased to have her with us.

Senator Forrestall: I will attempt to deal with one aspect of the bill and Senator Carney will deal with another aspect.

It is my pleasure to speak to you tonight on Bill S-21, to protect heritage lighthouses. Coming from Atlantic Canada, I had little choice but to bring this bill forward for consideration as a proud Nova Scotian concerned about the future of our beautiful lighthouse trail. This is not a partisan issue. It is not a money issue. Every day, coastal communities throughout Canada face the prospect of the loss of historic places of significance in their community. Lighthouses have been sources of salvation to sailors in littoral waters for hundreds of years. They have served as centres for coastal communities. The Lighthouse Preservation Society based in Nova Scotia, with representatives from across Canada, has done much work to examine the plight of Canada's lighthouses and has attempted to save them from destruction. Other groups on the West Coast have also attempted to preserve this valuable part of Canadian maritime history.

Today there are over 500 lighthouses left in Canada. Only 19 have full heritage protection. Another 101 have partial protection and recognition as heritage sites, but what does that protection of heritage status mean in real terms?

I would draw your attention to Bill C-62, the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act of 1988, upon which this bill is modelled. Because heritage sites are not protected in any way whatsoever, another act was required to protect the heritage railway stations in Canadian communities from one end of Canada to the other.

The Heritage Railway Station Protection Act set up a process for public consultations to be held before any action could be taken with regard to what most of us consider to be valuable heritage sites, and it imposed stiff penalties in the event that any precipitate action resulted in damage, for example, to a historic railway station.

In our research for Bill S-21, we determined that Canada's 19 heritage lighthouses and 101 partially recognized sites are in the same vulnerable position as Canada's historic train stations were prior to the passage of Bill C-62. Consequently, the very purpose of Bill S-21 is also to protect heritage sites -- in this case, lighthouses.

Clause 3 states:

The purpose of this Act is to facilitate the designation and preservation of heritage lighthouses as part of Canada's culture and history and to protect them from being altered or disposed of without public consultation.

I will not go into the entire bill, because I know that you are all familiar with it, but I will touch on a few highlights.

Honourable senators, the bill defines "heritage lighthouse" as "any lighthouse, together with all buildings and other works belonging thereto and in connection therewith, designated by the Minister on the recommendation of the Board as a heritage lighthouse."

In the definitions clause, "alter" means to change in any manner, and includes to restore or renovate, but does not include routine maintenance and repairs.

"Board" means the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The minister responsible for this act will be the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Clause 4 states:

This Act applies to all lighthouses within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, whether or not they are used as navigational aids.

Clause 5 states that:

The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Board, designate, for the purposes of this Act, lighthouses as heritage lighthouses.

Most important, honourable senators, clause 6(1) states that:

No heritage lighthouse shall be removed, destroyed, altered, sold, assigned, transferred or otherwise disposed of, unless authorized by the Governor in Council.

For the purpose of safety, subclause 2 states that:

Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the alteration of a heritage lighthouse where the alteration is made in response to an emergency.

Clause 7 states:

Where it is intended to remove, destroy, alter, sell, assign, transfer or otherwise dispose of a heritage lighthouse, an application for authorization to do so shall be filed with the Minister, in accordance with regulations, after public notice is given in the prescribed manner of the intention to file the application.

Thus, a regulatory mechanism is set in place to protect these invaluable heritage sites.

Clauses 8 through 10 spell out the terms for public hearings and empower the minister and the Governor in Council to act in the public interest.

Honourable senators, this means that the public will be consulted before a heritage lighthouse is pulled over. That is the purpose. Consultation is a key factor in all of this.

It also sets up, honourable senators, a framework for the transfer of some of these heritage lighthouses to private hands or to coastal community groups while maintaining the Government of Canada's ability and right to protect and preserve Canadian culture.

In the end, according to clause 7, the minister will make a recommendation to the Governor in Council based on the report of the board.

Last, clause 9(1) states that:

The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the minister and on such terms and conditions as the Governor in Council considers appropriate, authorize the removal, destruction, alteration, sale, assignment, transfer or other disposal of a heritage lighthouse.

The key, though, and I repeat this, is that the public will have been consulted first. They will know what is intended, and they will have a platform and an authority and a process through which to appeal.

Before I turning to my colleague Senator Carney, I want to refer to one issue on which there has been some confusion: the choice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board as the advisory body in the bill and not the Federal Heritage Building Review Office, FHBRO as it is known.

The Constitution Act of 1867 gives the Parliament of Canada jurisdiction over lighthouses. Currently, there is no definitive protection for lighthouses, per se.

For the purposes of Bill S-21, the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, it was ascertained that there were four categories of heritage lighthouses. We now believe that there may even be a fifth. The categories are: one, federally owned and operating; two, federally owned but not operating; three, privately owned and operating; and, four, privately owned but not operating.

I alluded to the possibility of a fifth category. Mr. Ivan Kent of Pleasant Point, Kent's Island, on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, has on his property the physical structure. He owns the structure, but the government owns the light on top of it. We have not quite been able to sort that one out yet, but it is an option.

Most important in terms of Bill S-21, FHBRO can only deal with federally owned lighthouses. Heritage lighthouses operating as lighthouses but owned privately are not covered. As well, FHBRO offers no mechanism at all to allow communities to voice their concerns about the disposition of federal properties held in their communities. FHBRO does not need to consult with communities about the value they place on heritage structures. FHBRO also uses restrictive architectural criteria to designate heritage structures, and does not even have to visit the site in question. Departments holding the property often, in the end, do what they want to the heritage structure because FHBRO has no enforcement authority. Last, FHBRO has no jurisdiction over Crown corporations and agencies of government.

Our choice, therefore, for Bill S-21 was the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, as they can protect all heritage lighthouses under the jurisdiction of Parliament, including those privately owned and operating as lighthouses. HSMB can give recognition and commemorate heritage lighthouses, and has done so in the past. HSMB has a wider set of criteria available to use in designating heritage structures and does visit the site in question to give it a thorough examination. HSMB can designate and commemorate all heritage structures, federally owned or not. Under current law, however, even designated heritage lighthouses have been demolished still bearing the HSMB plaque. The only heritage structures HSMB can fully protect are heritage railway stations by virtue of the powers conferred upon it in the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act of 1988 to which I referred earlier, and in that regard HSMB has been very successful. The HSMB acts as an advisory body to the Minister of Heritage and serves to strengthen the minister's powers with regard to heritage lighthouses.

To close, let me say that it is for Canadian culture and its preservation that we need the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. I ask you very sincerely to consider these remarks, and those of Senator Carney, to whom I yield the floor.

Senator Carney: Honourable senators, I am just the relief pitcher here tonight. I do not have written remarks, because I knew that Senator Forrestall would cover the area, but I do want to make some supplementary remarks from the West Coast perspective.

Lighthouses are the icons of maritime history in Canada. They are our heritage. They reflect our heritage, and they reflect our history all across Canada. Bill S-21 will facilitate the designation and preservation of lighthouses and will ensure that the public is consulted before the lighthouses are altered, removed, sold, assigned, transferred or otherwise disposed of, as Senator Forrestall has explained. I will describe why that is important.

This issue is not strictly coastal. We have our East Coast-West Coast regions represented here, but this matter is also of national importance. Of Canada's 583 surviving lighthouses, the following provinces are affected. There are 72 lighthouses in Newfoundland, 160 in Nova Scotia, 56 in Prince Edward Island, 59 in Quebec, 104 in Ontario, 78 in New Brunswick, 2 in Manitoba and 52 in British Columbia. There are only two provinces that do not have lighthouses, the two prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The rest of Canada has and cherishes its lights.

From the West Coast perspective, the interest in preserving our light stations first manifested itself during the ad hoc parliamentary committee on light stations, which I set up with my MP friends in the House of Commons when DFO first attempted to de-staff further light stations on the coast, a process which our Conservative government initiated in an earlier time and which the following government was intent on continuing. Senator Forrestall came out with me, and we held our own hearings in coastal centres. It was a wonderful effort. Volunteers transcribed the tapes. A Public Service Commission staffer came with us as the informal French translator. We held meetings in a Canadian Legion hall, in a museum, in an oceanography institute, above a fire station, and in a hotel. We heard an outpouring of emotion from people on the coast about staffing the lighthouses and retaining people on the lights because of the safety net. In the system of lights up the coast, you needed the safety net of the whole system, not just of individual lights.

That testimony is contained in a report entitled "Light Stations: People Want People on the Lights." We reported this to the Senate, and it should be part of the record, but I brought a copy here so that it could be part of the record at this hearing.

Partly as a result of this coast-wide effort and support from across the provinces, DFO shelved that plan, although we are deeply suspicious of their long-term plans to de-staff the lights. They de-staffed only eight of the planned light stations, one of which is on my island, Saturna Island. The others have people on the lights.

Following that, people asked about the long-term protection of the lights. Who will look after our lights if they are de-staffed?

It is important to remember that Minister Dhaliwal is a West Coaster. In his letter to us, he said that he feels that the DFO has changed its policy.

He writes:

I am convinced that heritage elements relating to lighthouses in the custody of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans are being adequately addressed according to the policies set out for federal heritage buildings.

Senator Forrestall has pointed out that those are deficient.

Minister Dhaliwal continues:

Our mutual objective of protecting and preserving heritage lighthouses is being achieved through existing federal legislation as well as new flexibilities that my department has recently received in disposing of these structures to non-profit community groups interested in preserving these important assets.

I do not believe that the current federal rural property legislation includes a category that would permit that kind of flexibility. The legislation says that the priorities in the disposal of property such as light stations goes first to other federal departments, then to the provinces, then to the municipalities and then to private interests at market value. That raises images of restaurants like Tim Horton's or Colonel Saunders having our light stations emblazoned with advertisements, because in the list of priorities we find private interests at fair market value. We are not aware of any legislative authority that would allow special-interest groups to participate.

Another point is that allowing DFO to manage heritage lighthouses is putting the fox in the hen house. No one has destroyed more lighthouses than DFO. There are parts of Ontario where it is reported that more than 50 per cent of the lighthouses have been destroyed by DFO.

In the 1995 destaffing exercise on the eight stations that were destaffed, DFO personnel took sledgehammers to a lighthouse that was built in 1902. In the Muskoka area, the western light station was blown up by DFO. In other places along the coast, members of the DFO, or Transport Canada, the predecessor mandated authority, simply went in and razed the lighthouses, replacing them with metal structures with a light on top.

Given the corporate culture of deinstitutionalization that exists in the mindset of the Coast Guard people administering the lights, it is not a wise idea to leave the future and the preservation of our heritage in the hands of the DFO, notwithstanding the minister's good intent. Our proposal to have guardianship moved to a neutral body has more safety. It is not easy to allocate light stations to public groups. It is not easy to decide which light stations should be preserved. In British Columbia, only 9 of the 52 light stations have any kind of heritage protection. Only two have full heritage protection. As Senator Forrestall says, they can still be razed.

There are historically important light stations, such as the one at Nootka and Friendship Cove. That is one of the most historic sites in North America. It was at Nootka and Friendship Cove that the Spanish grip on the Pacific Ocean was broken. The Pacific Ocean was a Spanish lake until the time that Quadra and Cook met and established the Nootka Convention. There is a plaque that commemorates the occasion at that site.

The aboriginal community that traditionally inhabits Friendship Cove has plans with Parks Canada to develop an information centre. There are other polices on the coast, like Nootka, which should also be preserved. They mark and serve a major function.

There are other problems in terms of who should be given the lights. One of the assets of the proposed legislation is that you must have flexibility because national legislation applies nationally; however, the lighthouse landscape on the East Coast is entirely different from that of the West Coast. On the East Coast you can drive to many light stations. They are headland to headland, from eyesight to eyesight. On the West Coast, they may be hundreds of miles apart. On the West Coast, you must kill a great many people before Ottawa will approve a light station. That is why it is an infrastructure system, not headland to headland. In many cases, there are no roads at all. North of Lund, there is one road for hundreds of kilometres of coastline until you reach Kitimat. You must access these light stations by sea or by helicopter. It is not easy to find a group of citizens who will take on those lighthouses.

This summer I was sailing north of Desolation Sound and came down Nodales Channel and there was Chatham Point, on Johnstone Strait. It is like an interchange on the 401. Johnstone Strait goes from here to there. Nodales Channel comes here. There are other channels that intersect and here is this wonderful lighthouse, which is like a traffic cop for busy marine traffic. However, you would have to travel quite some distance to find a community that could take over a light station like that. There are groups, municipal structures and regional districts, but this legislation gives time to sort out those kinds of problems.

Honourable senators may say that the proposed legislation is not explicit enough. Two of our destaffed life stations are Sisters Islands and Ballenas and they are sitting in the middle of the Georgia Strait with nothing but whales, cormorants and seagulls to look after them. However, that is not the case on the East Coast.

This bill is supported by the British Columbia Coastal Community Network, which is an organization that represents more than 40 coastal villages, towns, tribal councils, NGOs and band councils in 10 regional districts. This bill is supported by the West Vancouver Historical Society, which is just one of many historical societies that have expressed an interest. This bill is supported by the Georgia Strait Alliance, an organization of 50 groups, including business, labour and marine, whose mandate is to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability Georgia Strait. The residents of Mayne Island also support this bill.

Three B.C. provincial ministers support this bill: The Honourable Corky Evans, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries and Minister Responsible for Rural Development; the Honourable Dan Miller, our former premier, and Minister of Energy and Mines and the Minister Responsible for Northern Development; and the Honourable Ian Waddell, the Minister of Small Business, Tourism and Culture. There are then MPs such as Svend Robinson, the MP for Burnaby-Douglas; Gerald Keddy, the MP for South Shore; and Mark Muise, the MP for West Nova.

Finally on our list is an important coastal institution, namely, the Museum at Campbell River, which is one of the best museums in British Columbia in terms of coastal culture.

There is support for this bill. There is an interest in it. We do not feel that any existing legislation provides the protection that this bill does, and we do not feel that DFO has the mandate to preserve light stations, although they have the mandate to operate them.

Senator Forrestall: In addition to Senator Carney's list, a resolution was put forward following the meetings that were held this past weekend with Heritage Canada. I am sure the officials will speak for themselves, but I want to add that the provincial governments of the Atlantic provinces -- not just the Maritimes but all Atlantic provinces -- have shown support for that resolution. The resolution regarding lighthouse protection legislation, which was passed at the conference held this past weekend, reads as follows:

Whereas the nation's heritage lighthouses and buildings belonging to them are an important part of Canada's culture and history; and

Whereas these lighthouses and buildings should be preserved so that future generations can know and understand Canada's maritime people, their history and traditions; and

Whereas our heritage lighthouses at present are not protected from demolition, removal, alteration and other acts that would destroy their heritage significance;

Therefore be it resolved that Heritage Canada Foundation make representation to the federal government in the strongest terms for the passage of legislation which would preserve and protect the nation's heritage lighthouses.

With that, Senator Carney and I welcome questions.

The Chairman: Thank you, Senator Forrestall and Senator Carney. We have half an hour for questions and then we have other witnesses to hear.

Before we proceed, would committee members agree that the report to which Senator Carney referred will be an exhibit in this committee's study? May I have a motion to that effect?

Senator Robertson: I so move.

Senator Meighen: I second the motion.

The Chairman: Is it agreed?

Hon. Senators:Agreed.

Senator Perrault: I am a British Columbian and I am supportive of this measure. It is a good measure.

Why is it that all the lighthouses on the East Coast of the United States are all automated? They have given up the idea of having any manned facilities at all. It is the same case in Great Britain. I am not raising these questions in a negative manner, but I am honestly asking why they have gone to automation in these other jurisdictions.

Senator Forrestall: The United States, of course, has hundreds of vessels at sea at any given point in time. The United States Coast Guard and other instruments of United States policy are plying the waters both east and west of the United States and in the Gulf. They have taken over much of the traditional role of the lighthouses in Canada.

With the present state of technology, most vessels, including relatively small sailboats, have positioning equipment. They can quickly determine rather precisely where they are. There are other reasons. For Britain, it is very much the same situation. They have literally hundreds of coastal boats at work on their coasts.

Senator Perrault: That sounds like a reasonable explanation.

Senator Forrestall: The work that they do and that these old lighthouses do is weather work.

Senator Carney: One reason for the difference between the U.S. and our West Coast -- and I can only speak for the West Coast of Canada -- is that on the West Coast, close to and behind most of their light stations is a military camp. In the U.S., the U.S. military is a driving force behind many of the coast guard activities. We do not have that. We do not have even one army camp in British Columbia. It is quite a different situation.

The most important reason on the West Coast for wanting staffed light stations, as expressed in our report, is that it is in the interest of marine and aviation safety. People want people on the lighthouses because the automatic equipment proposed to replace them is reported to be unsafe, unreliable or non-existent. If you are out there on a boat, you hear endless reports about reporting stations not being available, wave buoys not working, and something else not being available. The people who rely on the system say that until the technology is good enough to give us the same weather/sea/surf conditions, the same aviation and marine weather, we need the existing system.

Another reason has to do with search and rescue. On the West Coast, even the volunteer lightkeeper on Saturna Island often pulls people out of the water who get caught on Boiling Reef. That is why the light station was put there in the first place. However, the major reason is the deep concern over the unreliability of the automated equipment, which is not good enough yet.

Senator Perrault: Clause 6(2) says that 6(1) does not apply in respect of the alteration of a heritage lighthouse where the alteration is made in response to an emergency.

What kind of incident could cause the kind of action that would radically alter the configuration of a lighthouse? Moreover, clause 8(5) states: "For the purposes of a reference under subsection (2), one member of the Board constitutes a quorum." That places a lot of responsibility on one individual.

Senator Forrestall: I may ask Mr. Varner to respond to that briefly, but let me make one suggestion to you. The geophysical areas that are involved in our eastern, northern and western coasts and on our principal waterways, namely the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, all differ. Let me show you a picture of major erosion, for example. That lighthouse is about to fall into the sea.

Senator Perrault: So this is the type of alteration that might be done?

Senator Forrestall: Yes. Sometimes an emergency operation must be undertaken. You have to allow the department some leeway as to whether, in its judgment, the expenditure is worthwhile. We are trying to find an area of consultation. The damage depicted in this picture did not happen in one storm. This lighthouse was 175 meters from the water as recently as 15 years ago. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, our cliffs are eroding. Senator Callbeck and Senator Robertson will know of the great difficulties and concerns we have with regard to the erosion of our natural shoreline.

Senator Carney: In B.C., another cause of emergency is related to the earthquake zone. On the coast we are on the San Juan fault, and we are always being chastised for not being prepared for "the big one". Heritage Canada and DFO would both need the flexibility to deal with an earthquake. That is one reason there was not a lot of outcry when the department destaffed Sandheads light, which is right off the Fraser River delta. A great deal of sand built up and there was some concern that it could be unstable.

Senator Perrault: It is a very real possibility.

Mr. Joe Varner, Senior Advisor to Senator Forrestall: Honourable senators, we were very concerned not in any way to tie the hands of the Commissioner of the Coast Guard and DFO if, in an operating lighthouse, they had to make some alteration to the navigation systems for the safety of mariners. Therefore, we did not define "emergency." We left it open so that the government could define it and take appropriate steps.

Another issue relates to liability. There might well be a rail on a stairwell in a heritage lighthouse that would have to be replaced because it was no longer safe. We wanted to allow the government some flexibility.

In regard to your second point about one board member being a quorum, that was modeled after the existing Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act. In that case, that was the criterion set. From all the accounts we have heard so far, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board has done very well; so we left it as it was in the other legislation and modeled it as much as we could on that.

Senator Meighen: Congratulations to both of you. This is an excellent initiative.

Senator Carney, what is the difference between a light station and a lighthouse?

Senator Carney: In a practical sense, there is no difference. They are called light stations on the West Coast. The term that is used is "light station," and the person is an operator of a light station.

Senator Meighen: It is a West Coast-East Coast difference.

Senator Carney: The ordinary person calls them lighthouses, but they are stations because they do a variety of work beyond their mandate. They do weather reporting and water testing, which helps determine where the salmon run. They do saline testing and temperature testing, which determines whether the salmon come down inside or outside. They do environmental testing for Environment Canada. Therefore, they are more than just lightkeepers, although their mandate may restrict them to that.

Senator Meighen: Senator Forrestall, if this bill becomes law, would you expect that the majority of the remaining lighthouses would be entitled to receive historic designation?

Senator Forrestall: I cannot speak for the West Coast, but I have no doubt that the same is true there as on the East Coast. There is not a single Canadian Atlantic, St. Lawrence or Great Lakes station that has not, at some time, been very active and instrumental in saving lives, in rescuing people from the perils of water and storms, et cetera. In the broad sense, they are all historic, whether they were built in the 1930s or 1940s for particular reasons, or built in the 1800s. It is a matter of degree as to how great their value is to the community.

I believe that the greatest interpreters of the historic significance of these are the people who live in the communities and who will have that opportunity through meaningful consultation. I know the government's view with respect to these things and I think that it would want the assistance of the communities.

In that sense, Senator Meighen, every lighthouse in Canada is potentially of great historic value to us -- if not now, then at some time in the future. I say that even though many of ours in Atlantic Canada have been destaffed for several years.

Senator Carney: That is particularly true on the West Coast. Nine lighthouses have some form of heritage protection, although it may have no teeth. One of them, Pachena Point, was the scene of a shipwreck which was considered the worst until the Titanic in terms of horror and the number of fatalities. The Valencia, a ship from San Francisco carrying 160 passengers, ran aground in the fog.

Langara Lighthouse and others in the area were built when it was thought that the Grand Trunk Railway was going to go to Prince Rupert and all the ships from Asia would come through. Estevan Point is the site where the First Nations, in 1774, saw a European for the first time, the Spaniard Captain Juan Perez, in the Santiago.

These are things you can build around the light stations. Carmanah was the first traffic control centre and is on the part of the coast known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific." It was built in the wrong place, because they took the building material there in the fog. It was meant to mark the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait for the ships coming in. In the fog, they landed on the wrong beach and they built the lighthouse there. I believe that was the first lighthouse on the West Coast.

There is an historic reason for the existence of every light station. I have learned never to indicate what I think are the important reasons for heritage designation because, regardless of my view, the people in the community may have a different view.

When the issue of destaffing came up, I thought that Trial Island could be destaffed since it sits just offshore in the middle of Oak Bay, the tea and tweed capital of Canada. Then the lightkeeper, who was the former Saturna lightkeeper, pulled three kayakers out of the water who felt they would have otherwise drowned. Light stations are important to people for their own reasons, in addition to the heritage reasons.

I hope that under the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board, because the criteria for heritage is broader than the mainly architecturally driven guidelines under the existing agency, more light stations will receive heritage designation.

Senator Meighen: With reference to your knowledge of the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, what are the cost implications of this? If an inoperative lighthouse is given historic destination, does the Historic Sites and Monuments Board have the responsibility of maintaining that site until such time as it is transferred or otherwise disposed of?

Senator Forrestall: Mr. Chairman, we will soon have with us some of the departmental experts, who are in a far better position than we as lay people to respond to that.

Let me assure you that the total cost, while a great deal of money, is a relatively insignificant amount; but even that amount of money must give concern, as I am sure it does, to the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, who has to carry the line costs.

The ideal solution, of course, is to burn down all the lighthouses, but that is not what they want and, obviously, it is not what we want.

In the long run, I believe, the communities, working together closely, and in consultation with the department and using the new process that this act will permit, will be able to arrive at a variety of arrangements agreeable to and welcomed by the department, the government, and Heritage Canada.

For example, looking at the cost anecdotally, you might find someone saying, "Yes, we need a lighthouse there. We had better buy 20 acres, because we don't know how much we will need or what calls may be made on it in the future; we may even need 50 acres." Then they only use part of that land, but they still own the 50 acres, and that is a burden. It may be that all they needed was 10 square feet on top of an existing structure. So the cost could be related to owning a structure, a lighthouse or station, and an inner range, middle range, or outer range structure or light, or a light on the top of one of these structures and the power to generate it. In any event, given time, I believe, Canadians and the communities of Canada, who understand the potential historic value of having one of these in their communities, will work out arrangements among themselves. Perhaps that will involve their municipalities; perhaps it will involve their provincial governments. Some lighthouses, being 50 or 60 miles from anybody, may well become a provincial responsibility.

The act will permit these matters to be pursued, examined and dealt with through the consultation process. It is to the advantage of the government and the people of Canada to have these structures in the hands of communities and interests that will protect them and will see in them the great historic value that I am sure we all see.

Senator Meighen: Just so I understand, that would not preclude, if it was deemed appropriate by the Governor in Council and the community, a heritage lighthouse from coming under the control of a private individual, subject to whatever conditions were attached to the site, which I presume would go on in perpetuity?

If I am not mistaken, there is a lighthouse in the middle of the St. Lawrence River, off Rivière-du-Loup, where you can go for a night or two. It a historical and beautiful place to spend a couple of days. That is another alternative that is not precluded, as I understand it, by your legislation?

Senator Forrestall: Of course not. It is encouraged.

Senator Carney: I have some practical experience in that respect because of Saturna Island, but I want to point out that Parks Canada received $1 million per year for five years to administer the Heritage Railway Stations Act, and the rule of thumb is that this act, because of the nature of it, might run $2 million a year for, say, the five-year period. We are talking about relatively nominal amounts of money.

One of the fundamental differences between ordinary public consultation and public consultation under Parks Canada or Heritage Canada is the eventual decision that, in fact, the lighthouse does have a cultural or heritage aspect. On Mayne Island, when they destaffed the lighthouse right at the entrance to Active Pass, where ships hit each other and people drown with fair regularity -- ferries hitting freighters and cruisers hitting other boats -- the argument on the community level was whether one should make a memorial, a funeral garden or a museum at the site. You really cannot leave it open-ended with the community.

On Saturna Island, the fight was whether the lighthouse should be a secondary fire station to house the fire truck for the south end of the island or whether it should be a seniors' centre.

Senator Forrestall: For Senator Meighen's benefit, I will quote from, "Better Finances, Better Lives, The Budget Plan 2000," tabled in the House of Commons:

The government is committed to the development of initiatives in support of the restoration and preservation of Canada's built heritage. Canadian heritage officials have undertaken discussions with provincial, territorial and municipal government officials with a view to establishing a national register and conservation standards in respect of heritage property. These tools will be instrumental in assessing the necessity of financial support to sustain and ensure the preservation of Canada's built heritage.

Senator Robertson: My first question was answered when I reviewed Senator Callbeck's testimony in the chamber; there was a reference to the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office and, if I understood her remarks correctly, there was an inference to be drawn that that office is mandated to evaluate all the federally owned buildings, but not those that are not owned federally and not operated federally.

If I have incorrectly interpreted what you said, senator, I can come back to you privately, because I know time is of the essence.

Senator Carney talked about the privatization of some of the lighthouses, and I would congratulate both of you on the immense amount of work you have done in this area. It is a good piece of legislation and I sincerely hope that we can get this legislation through both houses without undue delay.

When you mentioned dreading the possibility of restaurant advertising, for example, being displayed on some of these structures that might be privately owned, I had to wonder about the requirement that surplus federal property be sold at market value. Lighthouses may be sold to private developers in some cases because local community groups cannot afford to purchase the property. Does Bill S-21 deal with the issue of allowing a community organization the opportunity to acquire a lighthouse for care and preservation, although it could not perhaps match the market price?

Senator Carney: The essential feature of this bill is that it does provide for public input.

Senator Robertson: Input or ownership?

Senator Carney: It could lead to both, but before it goes to private ownership there is public consultation. People can voice their concerns. There could be some consensus. I am not ruling out any private ownership, although I cannot think of any on the West Coast. However, there are educational institutions at Race Rocks, for example, where Pearson College, or one of the West Coast institutions, has a program for oceanography and marine sciences which they operate out of the light, so I am not ruling it out. This bill would ensure, before that step was taken, that there would be adequate public consultation. There is no provision for public consultation now. That is the major factor of this bill.

I also want to point out that not all buildings are heritage. One of the light stations removed in British Columbia was on Triangle Island, which is a rock off the north coast of Vancouver Island, where the winds are 100 miles an hour. They built the lighthouse at the turn of the century so high up on the rock that the light was above the fog level. Ships coming in still ran into the rocks because the light was above the level of the fog. They took that light station down a long time ago, and I doubt that in that kind of situation there would be a public outcry; but at least our bill would permit public discussion of any change to such a light station.

For example, if DFO felt there was good and sufficient reason that a light station should be removed for the safety of the lightkeepers, as in the case of Sand Heads, there is an avenue to do that, instead of making arbitrary decisions.

Senator Robertson: I do not think my question was answered. Let me rephrase it. Suppose the lighthouse at Caissie Cape, across from the bay where I live, was designated a heritage building and was to be sold for fair market value. Say they had all the consultations, but the local community could not raise the money to meet the market value, and consequently Colonel Saunders came in and put up the big signs. Is there anything in this bill to help communities that cannot afford the fair market value to acquire these heritage buildings?

Senator Carney: No, I do not believe that this bill would preclude that, but it would provide for consultation so that the concern about the disposition could be articulated. The only parallel I have to that hypothetical situation you describe is the acquisition of park land. If people are not concerned, the bill is flexible enough to allow whatever the heritage characteristics would permit.

If people are concerned, there is a vehicle in this bill to allow their consultation to take place. There is nothing in the existing legislation that states that DFO must consult with the people. DFO might consult, but the history of DFO consultations on the West Coast indicates that they take the position: "We are here to tell you what we are going to do and not to hear from you on what you would like us to do."

The short answer to your question is that there is a whole range of things that could be done with lighthouses, at least on the West Coast, but there would certainly be a chance to have public input into them.

Senator Forrestall: The changing rules and requirements of the Canadian Coast Guard are such that various options are suddenly available, but there are orders of priority, and the last priority would be the sale of a light station to a hamburger joint. I do not like to use that expression, but that would be the last priority. In any event, if having that happen were not the wish of the community, the community would have recourse to appeal, in the sense that they would have the opportunity to express their point of view to the authorities who would ultimately have to make the decision.

I suggest that it would only happen if, for example, all the requirements were met, including those of the provincial departments responsible for health and the environment, as well as the social requirements of the community. Otherwise it would not happen.

Mr. Varner: It is my understanding that DFO and the Coast Guard are implementing some changes to make it easier for communities to get these lighthouses and structures by making some changes to the regulations as they now stand.

Senator Carney: That is not covered under this legislation.

Senator Callbeck: Being from Prince Edward Island, I am very familiar with lighthouses and I certainly support this legislation in principal. I agree that lighthouses are part of our culture and our history, and I think it is important to designate heritage lighthouses.

In the discussion here tonight, I believe it was said that there are 500 lighthouses in Canada.

Senator Carney: There are 583.

Senator Callbeck: From the discussion, I feel that you think that most of these will be designated. Is that correct?

Senator Carney: No, I am not saying that.

Senator Forrestall: I said they have the potential to be designated, senator, not that they would be; but they have the potential.

Senator Carney: We will not make that designation. A proper authority and agency should be set up to do that.

Senator Callbeck: The Historic Sites and Monuments Secretariat of Canada will make that decision. Clause 7 states that when it is intended to remove, destroy or sell a lighthouse, application is made to the minister. Is that application made by the board?

Senator Carney: The application is made by the department.

Senator Forrestall: Yes, it is made by the department.

Senator Callbeck: Therefore, if there is an objection, it is referred to the HSMSC Board and there is public consultation. I share Senator Robertson's concern about community groups, because I think that it is impossible for many community groups to come up with the market value dollars. I do not see anything in this legislation that will deal with that. It is great that they will be consulted and so on, but, certainly, that is one concern I have with the legislation.

It was mentioned tonight that the FHBRO has no enforcement authority. My understanding is that they classify buildings after 40 years to recognize classified federal heritage buildings. Is it a fact that with those classified buildings, even if sold, there could be conditions written into the agreement of sale that the new owners would be required to abide by certain stipulations?

Senator Forrestall: I do not know. I imagine they could write whatever kind of agreement the two parties were prepared to accept. I suppose there would be limits on that as well, but there is nothing specific. It is pretty straightforward in that the Constitution Act of 1867 gives responsibility for lighthouses to the Parliament of Canada. Parliament has not seen fit to describe a definitive protection for her heritage lighthouses.

That is what we are trying to do, as well as provide through that, the protection for consultation. Thus, what you have suggested, senator, could be attempted, but it would not progress far if there was a vigorous municipal or provincial protest.

I think the government would act quite sincerely in that respect, and it would listen to the community view, whether voiced by a committee in the community, by the municipality, by the province, or by the local member of Parliament.

Senator Carney: It does not suggest that the Government of Canada has an obligation to finance a community to acquire a lighthouse. There is no such suggestion. As I have pointed out, in British Columbia there is no community adjacent to some of these lighthouses. There is no consultation process in place. If DFO wants to blow up a lighthouse, they have the legislative right under existing mandates to do that. They have no mandate that we are aware of to add this fifth category of non-profit groups to the federal act covering real property. This does fill a hole by saying that the process would be amended to allow that kind of consultation. It is not there now.

Senator Callbeck: I realize that, and I think that is good, but my concern, as I say, was what Senator Robertson suggested regarding communities that want to take over a lighthouse but do not have the financial resources to do so.

Senator Carney: In British Columbia, they go out and raise the money. They sell quilts. They run bingo games. It is absolutely amazing what small communities in British Columbia will do at the moment to save park land. If there were an interest in a specific lighthouse, they would go some distance to save it. However, there is no financial obligation on the government.

The Chairman: We thank Senator Forrestall and Senator Carney for their marvellous presentation.

Senator Carney: And we thank the staff for the background work.

The Chairman: We will now hear from Ms Carol Beal, who appeared approximately one year ago regarding small crafts and harbours.

Ms Carol Beal, Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Yes, that is correct.

The Chairman: Mr. Reg Golding, from the Canadian Coast Guard is here as well, and Ms Christina Cameron is here from Heritage Canada.

Ms Beal: I should like to thank the committee for the opportunity to appear again this evening. Also, I take this opportunity to apologize for the absence of my colleague, the Commissioner of the Coast Guard, who is on the West Coast taking care of business as we speak and thus is not able to be here. He would have liked to attend.

DFO fully agrees with the objective of preserving cultural heritage for all heritage assets, and appreciates the public's desire to preserve the cultural heritage of light stations, in particular. We can, therefore, only agree with the objectives of the proposed legislation. My purpose this evening is to indicate how we think this legislation, as it is currently written, will impact on DFO's operational capability.

Among other things, DFO is responsible for the provision and maintenance of marine aids to navigation, lighthouses being one component thereof. We do periodic reviews of navigational aids to ensure the provision of the right number and mix of aids needed to provide affordable levels of safety and environmental protection. Through these reviews and the introduction of technological advances, an increasing number of lighthouse structures and properties are being identified as no longer needed as part of the aids to navigation system.

One of the hats that I wear within DFO is that of senior financial officer, so you will understand my next comment. Like other government bodies, we are constantly dealing with diminished budgets and seemingly boundless demands for better and more services. Treasury Board policy on real property requires that custodial departments that no longer require particular real property for their program delivery must dispose of it by sale or transfer.

Moreover, as you would appreciate, available funding within the budget is being directed to those sites where there is a continuing need to maintain the structure for program delivery, such as towers that house lights and fog horns. We have instituted an aggressive program of environmental remediation to some of our sites to ensure public and user safety.

We very much support the heritage policy of the Government of Canada, and we apply it throughout the life cycle management of the asset, which also includes the disposal process. DFO has worked closely with the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to put in place an accelerated process for reviewing lighthouses. Currently, we are the custodian of 262 major light stations, as well as approximately 223 culturally significant minor light stations. We sometimes affectionately refer to these as the "salt and pepper shaker towers".To date, almost 400 of our light stations have been evaluated under the heritage policy, and the process is continuing. Eighteen of these -- I think Senator Forrestall used the number 19 -- have already received heritage designation as "lassified." One hundred of the lighthouses have received the designation as "recognized" federal heritage buildings.

You can see that we have a fair number in the inventory that have already gone through the process and been recognized as being culturally significant from a heritage perspective. Fourteen of our lighthouses have been designated national historic sites pursuant to the Historic Sites and Monuments Act.

Our coastal communities and the Canadian public at large, as we just heard from the two senators, have made extensive representations to preserve surplus light stations for community and public use. We in DFO are collaborating with communities and other organizations across the country, such as the Atlantic Lighthouse Council, to the fullest extent possible to assist them in achieving their future goals for lighthouses in the areas of culture, heritage and tourism.

We all know that the current disposal process is slow. As Senator Carney previously pointed out, Treasury Board policy did not permit directing the sale of surplus property to a community group, that is correct, except on a case-by-case basis, with specific Treasury Board approval being required, or in instances where we did program devolution.

Specific light station disposal program-related flexibility then was needed to facilitate this initiative and reduce disposal costs. Over the last few years, we have been working closely with the Treasury Board with a view to obtaining, incrementally, more flexible authorities so as to be of real help to the preservation and public access objectives by allowing a more effective and efficient direct transfer to interested community groups.

Just in passing, I should mention that in our last long-term capital plan submission to the Treasury Board, DFO asked specifically for authorities for light stations. I will now list the ones that we have received. This is a new development. We received these authorities about four months ago, and we are just now starting to work our way through the implementation process. These authorities include the authority to include community groups as fourth priority in the disposal process.

So the first priority is other government departments; the second priority is the provinces; the third priority is the municipalities; and we have now instituted that community groups will be recognized as the fourth priority, which is prior to public disposition or sale to the public.

That is a very significant step. Our challenge, and I think it was also referred to earlier, is that, when more than one community group is interested in an acquisition, a process must be established with criteria, such as benefits to the Crown, benefits to the community, and perhaps even a tendering process to ensure fairness between the groups and to allow the best decision to be made regarding where the light station would be directed.

We have also obtained authority to direct a sale to a current community group when the group is a tenant in our existing facility, and has occupied that facility as a tenant for the last two years.

In some cases we have organizations within local municipalities that have leased some of these properties in order to start a small museum, a tourism office, or an information office. We are interested in ensuring some sort of continuity of that use. We, therefore, secured a direct sale authority from the Treasury Board for those purposes.

We have also received authority from the Treasury Board to transfer to a community group portions of a light station property that might otherwise, under present rules, be divided and disposed of separately to the highest bidder. This comes back to some of the questions that were raised earlier about the sale at fair market value. This authority allows us to sever portions of the property so that the light station portion is able to go to the community group. The department is therefore able to realize value out of the remaining portions of the property.

As well as these authorities, we have also initiated a number of discussions with other levels of government and community groups in the last few years. We feel that we can move forward with these new authorities and complete additional transfers in the near future, achieving our mutual objectives of protecting and preserving our heritage lighthouses through existing federal legislation and policy. For example, the federal officials and representatives of the Province of Prince Edward Island have recently commenced discussions relating to the possible transfer to the province of 17 light stations that make up a major portion of the province's tourism efforts. We hope to be able to approach other provinces that have similar interests with a view to arriving at some mutually beneficial conclusions.

If for any reason we find that these light station authorities that we have recently acquired do not fully help us in achieving these objectives, we have laid the ground with the Treasury Board Secretariat to return to seek further authorities. We have prepared the way to go back, if we find that the three authorities specifically for lighthouses that we have do not help us achieve all of the objectives that are necessary.

I know that those are recent developments. There may be some view that the proof of the pudding will be in how we apply those. However, we are confident that that is a major step forward for our department and its ability to move these into community hands; so, hopefully, we will be able to satisfy some of the concerns in that regard this evening.

I would be happy to answer any more detailed questions that you might have. I do have a little working knowledge of the Federal Real Property Act through my previous position, and I might be able to answer some of the questions that have already been raised in that regard.

I had the privilege this evening of hearing the two proponents set out their positions quite clearly. If I may, I will take a minute and run through some of the implications that we feel, from a DFO perspective, might arise from the way the bill is currently envisaged.

The proponents' overall position is that current federal legislation and policy do not sufficiently protect light station heritage, and therefore additional legislation is required to ensure that the heritage light houses remain in the public domain and that the public are consulted whenever a significant intervention is considered. DFO believes that these protections exist under present legislation and policies found within the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, FHBRO for short, and through processes administered by Canadian Heritage, as well as other policies and authorities of the Government of Canada.

For example, under environmental assessment, which we must all do as we move forward with either a disposal or an improvement or enhancement to a facility, when federal funds are expended, we are required to review the impact. If there is sufficient public concern, we are compelled to hold public hearings.

I understand Senator Carney's views on our past record in that regard, and I take those without comment at this point, but I will come back to that later.

We have been making substantive efforts in the past year and one-half in dealing with community groups. Last year, for example, in the Maritimes region, we sponsored a workshop for parties interested in dealing with light stations and light station disposition.

We have been trying as best we can, within our limited resources, to ensure that we go through an appropriate consultation process. There are always views on those consultations, but we feel that we have been working within the existing framework to carry that out.

Advocates also feel that these structures are major potential catalysts for economic revitilization of coastal communities, through the use of them for heritage and tourism purposes. We agree. This has been evidenced by our efforts to assist community groups in undertaking various revenue producing activities at our sites, as well as our efforts in requesting new authorities when our capacity to move forward has been somewhat limited.

Advocates would also like to see heritage classification given to all pre-1950 light stations, and they would set heritage standards for the protection and maintenance of lighthouses; however, we believe that the provisions of the existing legislation requiring a heritage review for all properties 40 years of age or older adequately respond to this issue.

Earlier, Senator Carney mentioned that DFO does not have a mandate with respect to culturally significant and heritage significant lighthouses and is required to dispose of its inactive lights in abandoned buildings. It has been recognized that increasing cuts to the Coast Guard's operating budget mean that surplus structures cannot be properly maintained or repaired often enough to allow them to remain in good shape. At DFO we agree with these points without question.

One issue raised this evening is the matter of fair market value and the ability of communities to raise the necessary funds, and I will speak to that for a moment. We do understand that some coastal communities cannot raise funds to purchase on the basis of fair market value. However, it is a matter of how one interprets "fair market value." If one were situated on the West Coast, the fair market value of some of those properties, based on standard appraisal processes, would result in the highest and best use evaluation for the property. The properties are very attractive. They could be sold into the private sector at a fair market rate that would be fairly significant. As Senator Carney has pointed out, the groups themselves are able to raise funds in that regard.

On the East Coast, that is not always the case. The ability to look at a property having fair market value is dictated by the area within which the property is situated. Many of these areas, quite frankly, do not have large market values.

Wherever possible, DFO has attempted to apply the policy of fair market value in the most lenient way possible. For example, we often are able to argue the case at Treasury Board that the fair market value for a property -- and I will just make up a figure, if I may -- might be $10,000, yet the cost to DFO to keep that property in its inventory and maintain it would exceed $10,000. Therefore, on a cost avoidance basis alone, one could argue the case that the department would save an equivalent to the market value over a short payback period.

We have tried, wherever possible, to take that approach. It is supportable because we are able to stipulate that these properties must remain for public access, with a public purpose. Taking that approach clearly helps us, while at the same time respecting the Treasury Board policy, which says that things must be disposed of at market value. So we believe that we have found a way to satisfy some of the coastal communities, although we recognize that we may not be able to do that in every case, because there are some communities for which there is just no resolution.

Senator Forrestall pointed out one of the realities of our light station program. In the past we often secured far more property than was necessary for the operation of the navigational aid. However, our ability to severe the property and do something with portions of the property and the structure itself has helped us substantively.

We are concerned about some of the operational implications if this bill is enacted. We are concerned particularly about clause 6(2). I would point out that, from a resource point of view, the bill will tend to slow down the disposal process. I think that is clear. The time frames set out for consultation are clear in the bill. They are a complex and sometimes cumbersome set of steps, especially in those cases where the Heritage Board requires full public consultation, which is often a lengthy process. We are sensitive to public concerns and we carry out a practical level of consultation. There is a difference between "practical" and "full" consultation, but we attempt to carry out a practical level of consultation. As a result, even with this process, our disposals are taking almost two years to carry out. We believe, therefore, that that recommended process will add another year to the time.

From a Coast Guard point of view, we would then be holding these properties for perhaps three years after the decision to dispose of them, just to go through the process, and that is a resource concern for us.

We also are particularly concerned with clause 6(2) with respect to the operations of the modernization of navigational aids. For all intents and purposes, the term "alterations" -- I believe it was "alterations" under the act -- would cause us some concern. We feel that there are operational alterations required that we would not want to define as an "emergency".

Let me be very clear. As a comptroller of the organization, I view very stringently the application of the term "emergency." For emergency situations we have numerous authorities that were not normally envisioned in the delegation of authorities within our department. We have numerous authorities to exceed expenditure limits or approval limits, for example. We have those in emergency situations within the department. We tend to view the exercise of "the emergency" as something that should be very rare and isolated and should happen only in exceptional circumstances.

Alterations of the light station for operational purposes would be precluded under this section, without going through the process. If we were to change for technological or structural reasons, in terms of wanting to move an aspect of the light station -- to add something such as new types of materials or a new technology in the facility -- we would have to go through this process. We feel that would have an operational impact, so we would like to point out the operational impact of the word "alteration" and the fact that we would not want to use "emergency" perhaps as liberally as the drafters might have envisioned.

From that perspective, we have concerns. Also, it would add significantly to the cost.

We are not quite sure how the Historic Sites and Monuments Board would develop policies with respect to light stations. Right now it would be difficult to predict how those policies would impact on us. At the end of the day, we are satisfied that, given the degree of stringency with which our colleagues in the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office look at these structures, an additional review would add some burden and cost.

In summary, the impacts that we see are significantly more time-consuming and more resource-intensive divestiture, or disposal, costs. Certainly, time would be a factor within our organization and is also a cost -- not just the duration of the time, but also the time that public servants are required to spend on the consultation process. That is also a resource implication.

We would have higher holding costs, in that we would be faced with more complex renovations and perhaps with changing processes to an existing operational facility. We would potentially have restrained relations and significant changes for operational efficiencies under the term "alteration," getting back to that point again.

In summary, these would be the impacts, but we have not put dollar figures on them. I would be hesitant to do that, but we feel that they would be significant. Given that one of our challenges is to ensure that we deliver an adequate level of marine safety, and that in the last budget the Government of Canada recognized that our department was significantly challenged in terms of our financial position, it provided us with funds to ensure the integrity of our programs in the Coast Guard. We would not want to further compromise the departmental budget with this extra burden.

Canada is not alone when it comes to looking at changes with regard to its lighthouses. DFO has been in contact with custodians of these types of assets around the world to look at various approaches to the issue. The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities, known as IALA, is studying how various governments deal with their surplus light stations. In other jurisdictions, such as the United States, the General Service Administration has a program where custodianship of lighthouses is transferred to state parks.

Tax incentives to private sponsors of exceptional sights is also another area that might warrant a little more research. No one is quite sure, in the international association or even in our own department, what the right approach to this might be. However, it is certain that the public movement on an international scale to preserve lighthouses for cultural heritage reasons is growing. DFO will continue to monitor different ways in which to approach the management, disposition and transfer of these important assets for the benefit of all Canadians.

In closing, let me reaffirm DFO's commitment to the noble objectives of Bill S-21. However, I would just reiterate that we feel that those objectives are already represented in existing legislation. The potential impacts of higher costs and a lengthened and more complex resource-intensive disposal process compel me to urge the distinguished members of this committee to continue to explore alternatives.

The Chairman: We will hear from Ms Cameron.

Ms Christina Cameron, Director General, Parks Canada Agency, National Historic Sites, Heritage Canada: I will be brief, as this is the file of DFO. I am the Director General of National Historic Sites, and, as such, I manage, or implement, three different heritage designation processes in the federal government. I will review those processes briefly because they have been touched on.

The first one is the National Historic Sites Program, which is a program of identifying places of national significance. That is done through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, of which I am the secretary. That is my second hat. The board recommends to the Minister of Canadian Heritage; the minister designates of national significance. Parks Canada supplies the research support for that operation and also the secretariat.

The second designation process that I am responsible for implementing is the Federal Heritage Buildings Policy, which looks at all federally owned buildings. It is a two-phased designation process and it is a policy of Treasury Board. I am responsible for providing the research and the secretariat, the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office -- FHBRO. It is a policy that holds individual deputy ministers and individual departments accountable for the management of the built heritage in their own departments. Its purpose is to ensure the protection of the built heritage while the property is within the federal jurisdiction.

The third process that I am responsible for is the implementation of the act that has been referred to here -- the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act -- which was passed in 1988 and brought into effect in 1990, I believe. In that process, it actually has been the model for Bill S-21. I have lived through the whole implementation of that bill, so I could answer questions on that if you wish.

In terms of lighthouses, there are 14 that have been designated as nationally significant. Of those, nine are managed by DFO, five by Parks Canada as heritage museums, and there are 120 that have been designated as heritage buildings under the Federal Heritage Buildings Policy.

The Chairman: We will start the questions with Senator Mahovlich.

Senator Mahovlich: Senator Carney and Senator Forrestall did not bring out the aspect of aesthetic enhancing to our country in our landscape. Is there anything in your mandate that says that, if a building is beautiful and is adding to our landscape, it will be protected? Does the government give it to the DFO or to Heritage Canada? Must we keep a thing because it is beautiful?

Ms Beal: No, senator, that is not within the DFO mandate. There is nothing that would say that because a site is attractive we would keep it. If it is a heritage site, or has heritage attributes, we, of course, follow the heritage policy of the Government of Canada.

Senator Mahovlich: I find them very attractive. We have a lighthouse in Lake Rosalind in Ontario. It is not the cleanest lighthouse at this time. I do not know who is supposed to be taking care of it. I never thought to look into that. I would feel sorry if it were removed and replaced by a post with a light on it. I find it very attractive.

Next week in Toronto there is to be an art show of paintings by Tom Roberts, who I believe was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition of his artistry. He passed away a few years ago. He used to go to the Gaspé and do lighthouse scenes throughout that area. It would be a shame if any of those lighthouses disappeared, because they add something special to our landscape and are an inspiration to our artists. They are certainly beautiful.

The Chairman: Would you care to comment on the remarks made by Senator Mahovlich?

Ms Cameron: I would agree that lighthouses are very attractive, and many of them are historically significant. The Parks Canada mandate is to assure the commemorative integrity of national historic sites, which means protecting them and so on.

In the case of this bill before us, it is not a question of Parks Canada taking over the lighthouses of Canada. We are not resourced for that. The purpose of the bill, as I understand it, is to ensure that there is a process whereby there would be adequate public consultation and whereby the light stations would leave federal inventory because they are no longer needed for operational reasons. However, they should leave the inventory in such a way that their heritage character is protected. That is the purpose of the bill, as I understand it.

The Chairman: Senator Mahovlich articulated an important point to many of us. Some of us do fear that these lighthouses are disappearing. With all due respect to DFO's desire to respond to Treasury Board guidelines for spending the taxpayers' dollars, some of us do fear that some of these lighthouses are disappearing. As Senator Mahovlich mentioned, a renowned artist's paintings will be on display in Toronto, and that may well awaken people's desire to see those lighthouses that are no longer be there. That will be very sad.

Senator Mahovlich: You say the law came into effect in 1988 to protect our railway heritage?

Ms Cameron: Yes.

Senator Mahovlich: What happened prior to that? Did the stations just disappear?

I am from a little town in Northern Ontario. As a young boy, I used to deliver newspapers, and I would wait at the train station for the newspapers to arrive. That station is no longer there. The highway goes right through where it used to be. I do not know if that happened prior to 1988 or 1990, but when I went home this past summer it was gone.

Ms Cameron: The bill was passed in 1988. It was brought into force in 1990. Before that, the railway companies were in fact demolishing stations without any review. The roots of the bill lie in the demolition of the West Parkdale Station in Toronto in about 1982. There were many examples cited of the railway companies arriving in the towns or the small communities and demolishing the stations without giving any notice to the communities.

Senator Mahovlich: The communities had no say?

Ms Cameron: They did not have any say. Since the implementation of the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, the communities have had a say, but even so there have been quite a few stations that have been disposed of by the company. Like DFO, the railway companies no longer need those stations for the kinds of operations they now have. However, this process has facilitated moving the stations into the communities and conserving their heritage character. That has been the process.

Just checking my own numbers, I believe that one station has been demolished since that act came into effect. All of the railway companies have been co-operative with the department in terms of bringing forward their proposals.

Senator Carney: I would like to thank both witnesses.

Ms Cameron, you have drawn the parallel well between the objectives of Bill S-21 and the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act. You have pointed out that that act has been effective. Do you support Bill S-21? Do you feel it has merit in the sense of achieving its goals, based on your experience with the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act?

Ms Cameron: If I were to look at the success of the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act, I think this bill would accomplish what you wish it to accomplish. In principle we support the bill.

My concern, which I believe Senator Carney voiced, is the cost implications. There certainly would be cost implications for Parks Canada, if Parks Canada were to be the regulator, in a sense, within government.

Ms Beal made the point that the process would be prolonged and there would be additional costs to DFO because it would have to continue to maintain the lighthouses, despite no longer needing them for operational reasons, during the period of finding a suitable disposal community group that would look after them.

Senator Carney: I do agree with Ms Beal that it takes more time and costs more to consult with the community than it does to blow up the lighthouse. That is a given.

Ms Beal, your discussion tonight referred repeatedly to the adequacy of existing legislation, the adequacy of existing enforcement and the adequacy of existing regulations. Could you supply the committee with the legislation, regulations and enforcement principles to which you refer?

It is our understanding, based on our research, that the existing legislation does not provide for consultation. The existing legislation does not meet the criterion of enforcement within which people wish to work.There is in fact no legislated mandate to achieve our objectives in the absence of this bill. Notwithstanding that, and given the restrictions under which you operate, DFO has tried hard in many communities in British Columbia to deal with this issue. It has been very tough on you, because we do not feel you have the legislation to achieve your objectives. That is a cost factor to you now. It takes a long time, as you pointed out, to do this.

If you could supply the information, we would appreciate it.

I would want to point out to the committee that we will be hearing from lightkeepers, including John Graham, the author of the Keepers of the Light and Lights of Inside Passage. Mr. Graham knows much about these issues and has seen lighthouses denuded of their artifacts under the absence of legislation.

We have had the bill reviewed on the West Coast by lightkeepers themselves on the operational aspects. I think you and I would agree that the lightkeepers probably know more about the operational aspects than either you or I. Therefore, we could ask them what they feel about the operational aspects of the bill.

We thank you both for your illuminating information.

Ms Beal: We will pass the response to the request to the Clerk of the Committee.

The Chairman: I believe that the minister has sent a letter to Senator Carney.

Senator Carney: I received it yesterday.

The Chairman: I received a copy of the letter, and I was wondering if the committee would agree that it become part of our exhibits as well. Is that agreeable?

Senator Forrestall: I have a basic objection to that.

The Chairman: Let us shelve it, then.

Senator Forrestall: I am not a member of the committee, but I want to express my view.

The Chairman: I will bring it up at the next meeting. Rather than getting into procedural matters now, we will continue with questions.

Senator Robertson: Senator Carney has asked my questions, Mr. Chairman.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: I understand that this evening, most agree in principle with what is being proposed. I would like to know what should be done to get your approval?

You mentioned that clause 6 is giving you some problems. In order to get the department's and the minister's approval, it would be necessary to propose amendments to this bill.

[English]

Ms Beal: We will respond specifically to clause 6(2). Our principal concerns are with the operational limits of the section with respect to the word "alterations." My other comments, with respect to the length of the process and its resource implications, still stand.

As comptroller I find myself in a position where I seem to constantly be saying, "We do not have a problem that resources could not solve." This is very much a matter of choice that has to be made within the department. We do not have sufficient resources within the department to deal with all of the structures that are currently within our custodianship. We have a facility in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, that is badly in need of work, but we are having to make choices as to where we spend our dollars, and we see this bill as adding to the demands on those very limited resources.

How would I change that? Well, I am very conscious that this bill originates in the Senate and, therefore, has no resources associated with it. I think there are alternatives that we could explore, such as the question of the appropriate custodianship. I take the committee's comments that this does not appear to be within the mandate of DFO, and we believe that as well. Again, I continue to refer to the point that we respect the government's heritage policy, but it is a cost implication to us.

The solution taken by the United States, in terms of general services administration, seems to be satisfactory in their jurisdiction. My colleague, I am sure, would speak up just as quickly as I with respect to the resource implications, if this were to fall within her portfolio without the associated resources to accompany it.

It is a matter of priority, not a matter of objective. I am a maritimer and know many of these light stations myself. I agree with Senator Mahovlich's view. Unfortunately, our department has operational concerns that must be addressed first.

The area that impacts operational concerns is the section on "alteration," and we are very concerned about that. The rest of my comments are more general with respect to resource implications and the timing of the process.

Senator Robichaud: Senator Forrestall said in his presentation that this is not a money matter. Would you agree with that?

Ms Beal: That objective is very broad and admirable in its goal, but it does have a cost implication associated with it. Therefore, I would have to say that to do what is being required under this bill would take some resources.

I believe Senator Forestall said it that it would not take many resources, and perhaps I would agree with his assessment that the magnitude of the resource implication would not be large. However, there would be a resource implication associated with it.

Senator Robichaud: I agree, and would like to find a way to do it, but it is a question of wording it properly. We can work at length on this and then find that for specific reasons there is no money, and we cannot bring it to the house because it will be rejected. We need to find a way by which it can be done.

Senator Forrestall: By that statement, I meant simply that the bill does not contemplate the expenditure of additional public money. We had tried to avoid that because we knew that we did not have any proper authority to spend or to raise funds. Indeed, I think that, as we went through the review of this, we concluded that we could find ways of saving the department substantial amounts of money through this process, once it was up and running.

Could one of the witnesses perhaps identify the line item for us -- where it stands, and how much money it would take on an annual basis for staff versus automation? Do we have a way of finding out how much it costs?

Ms Beal: We have a line item that would refer to the Aids to Navigation Program and would include all aspects.

Senator Forrestall: Where could we find a breakdown of that?

Ms Beal: There would not be one in the Estimates. The only breakdown that would exist would be within the departmental budgetary process.

Senator Forrestall: Do we have access to that? I do not think that we are talking about more than a few million dollars. I do not think it is as much as $10 million or $12 million, but it is certainly more than $1 million or $2 million. I simply have no idea of the exact amount.

If you could leave that figure with the Clerk or an idea of where we might search, maybe we could find these numbers for ourselves.

We certainly do not want to do those things that you have raised as objectionable, and perhaps you might help us in that regard. We have spent months, indeed, two or three years trying to avoid doing that. This has not been raised within the last six months.

Let me make a second point. I am sure you can help us with this.

We are flexible. Clause 6(2) can be rewritten, amended, discharged or brought back in a new form. It could be eliminated altogether. It would not change the fundamental objective.

As one of the movers, I am sure Senator Carney would agree with me that clause 6(2) was inserted so that there would be speedy passage of this bill. I know how to make pencil strikes through something. I know how to withdraw, delete and add.

Senator Carney: Only in consultation with your co-sponsor.

Senator Forrestall: I will give that due consideration.

Would you agree that clause 6(2), for example, could be reworded. Senator Carney's stations are on pretty solid rock, at least those that I have seen.

Senator Perrault: They take quite a battering on the West Coast.

Senator Forrestall: They take a battering, but they are solidly anchored.

Senators Callbeck, Robertson and Robichaud can attest to the fact that we are losing the battle.I am sure that Senator Meighen has spent a lot of time in a part of Canada very dear to him where he witnesses, daily, the effects of erosion. That clause was to acknowledge that we were not unaware of this situation.

The Chairman: Senator Forestall, could we wrap up because we are approaching our time limit?

Ms Beal: Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to save the senator a hunting expedition and provide him with the information within the department's budget on what we spend on aids to navigation. I would just like to caution the committee that this budget is all-inclusive of what we spent on aids. At the time at which the budget was put together, the light stations were in the administration costs of the Coast Guard.

There was a subsequent decision in the department as a result of which we now have a single real property custodian. I now have the pleasure of being the custodian of the light stations. My colleague, the Commissioner of the Coast Guard, is the operator of the navigational aid system associated with that. We have not yet separated the real property aspects that would deal with maintenance of the structures, maintenance of the properties, and those kinds of things, from the operational aspects of navigational aids.

The information I would provide you would contain both of those items. We have not separated them, nor do we have the ability at the moment to separate them. However, I would be happy to provide that information to you, Mr. Chair.

The Chairman: I noticed a little while ago that clause 6(2) is composed of exactly the same wording that was used in the railway legislation. You may want to consider that aspect in some of the answers that you will be providing to us. As I understand it, subject to what Senator Forrestall just noted, clause 6(2) could in fact be deleted completely, subject to Senator Carney's comments. It is identical to the railway legislation. You may want to comment further on it.

Ms Beal: There will be an operational component that exists with respect to light stations that does not exist in the railway station legislation. That was concerned more with facility conservation at that time.

Senator Callbeck: I have a question regarding FHBRO evaluations. I know that you have evaluated many lighthouses. One of the categories was "classified," and I believe you said that there were 19 lighthouses in that category. Am I correct is saying that, if changes are going to be made, there must be approval for those changes? However, you have no enforcement authority. If approval is not sought, what happens?

Ms Cameron: When the federal heritage buildings policy was structured, the accountability was left with the heads of each department. It applies only to departments. I think it was you, Senator Carney, who said that it did not apply to Crown corporations and does not apply to other agencies of government. The federal heritage buildings policy applies only to departments. The final accountability is with the deputy ministers of the departments.

There are two categories, "recognized" and "classified," which is the higher category. In the case of the higher category, there is a requirement to come back through the Federal Heritage Building Review Office for alterations, disposal and so on to get the approval of that body.

If you do not get the approval of that body, it can escalate within the proponent department and within Canadian Heritage. Ultimately, it could become a political discussion between two ministers. That is the final destination of a dispute. In almost all cases, we have not had a problem.

There is dialogue between experts, engineers and architects, on proposals. For disposals from the federal inventory of classified buildings, one must go through the FHBRO process. The regulations say that in the case of classified heritage buildings to be disposed, the proponent department must take steps to protect the building's heritage character and specify the nature and level of protection in any sale agreement. That is a requirement in the federal heritage buildings policy.

Ms Beal: We would do that by way of a caveat or a codicil in the sale agreement. Thus, that is a condition of sale. We have the ability to revoke the agreement of purchase and sale if those conditions are not met.

Senator Callbeck: That answers the question. I think you said that there were 19 classified and 101 recognized. That is 120 lighthouses.

What is the difference between the cost implications for those 120 lighthouses under the present policy as compared to what it will be under the proposed legislation that we are discussing?

Ms Beal: I apologize for the slightly round about way in which I must answer that.

The cost implications to which I was referring did not include the classified buildings. For those that have already gone through the process, we know what we want in the disposition. That is dealt with. Notwithstanding that, we would need to go through another process. We would have full public consultation. We would again have delays in the process that would take time. Time would equate to resources, et cetera. In my view, that would be our interpretation of what would be required.

That is not to say that the board may not arrive at the same criteria as the FHBRO board arrives at. If that were the case, it may not add a lot to the process. Hence, it is our argument that that has already been taken care of under existing provisions.

The Chairman: I believe Senator Robichaud has a wrap-up question.

Senator Robichaud: When a building is classified, what does it do to its market value? You are putting limitations on that.

Ms Beal: Yes, that is correct. In fact, that is one of the arguments that was used in the transfer of some of the post office facilities to smaller municipalities. The argument was that, with these designations and with the caveat for public access and use, et cetera, it did in fact place restrictions on what is called in the industry "the highest and best use of the property." Hence, the market value was diminished.

Our colleagues from Heritage think that that adds to the value of the property, but the concepts of value in an esoteric sense versus market in a real estate sense are quite different.

Senator Robichaud: Would that provide an incentive for a community group to take it over?

Ms Beal: Yes it would.

The Chairman: Thank you.

The committee adjourned.


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