The Campbell River Search and Rescue Station and a number of North Island lighthouse stations will benefit from a $1.5 million investment announced last week by the federal government.
John Duncan, Minister of State and MP for Vancouver Island North, made the announcement on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea as local Coast Guard personnel looked on at the Discovery Marina dock outside their station Friday morning.
“The funding will go towards lighthouse building renovations and exterior repairs, such as engine room replacemnt, walkway and road improvements,” Duncan read from prepared remarks. “Additional funding will also be provided to improve the shore-side operation space at the Campbell River Search and Rescue Station.”
Bob Ferguson, an engineer with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said his office began exploring improvements to the Campbell River Station in November when DFO first learned of the funding.
“We’ve worked with some conceptual plans, but there are not final plans yet,” he said.
“We want to make sure anything we do works for this station’s needs.”
DFO will have until March 31, 2017, to utilize the funding, he said.
The Coast Guard has had a presence in Campbell River for more than 30 years, and the local Search and Rescue Station is one of 11 in the province.
Also benefitting from the investment will be eight staffed lighthouse stations on the Island and the west coast, including those at Chatham Point, Nootka Island, Quatsino, Cape Scott, Pulteney Point on Malcolm Island, Scarlett Point, Egg Island and Addenbroke Island.
A government proposal in 2010 to de-staff B.C.’s lighthouse stations was cancelled in March of 2011 following an outcry from the Canadian Lighthouse Keepers Association and a Senate committee report that recommended halting the plan.
“I have been a consistent champion of light stations since the mid-90s,” said Duncan.
“It’s been very apparent our light stations are critically important to navigation and safety on our coast.”