Things are lighting up for the Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society, after becoming the recipient of a multi-year financial commitment of $550,000.
The funds were pledged by Westaway Charitable Foundation, an Ontario-based charity organization that first began its relationship with the local lighthouse preservation group by donating $1,000 to aid with restoration and repairs.
It’s the largest private donation to a lighthouse restoration project in Canada.
Sheringham Point Lighthouse, located in Shirley, 20 minutes west out of Sooke, is one of 21 heritage lighthouses in B.C., and is among one of the oldest standing structures in the region.
“Lighthouses are popular heritage sites in coastal Canada as well as being symbols of guidance and protection,” said the preservation society’s board member John Walls, adding he was overwhelmed by the Westaways’ confidence in their restoration efforts.
“The Westaways’ supremely generous donation offers us a beacon to help us navigate through our ambitious restoration project, a gesture that is outstanding in Canada.”
The donation will allow the society to proceed with major restoration work to both the lighthouse and the lighthouse property surrounding the building.
Westaway’s president, Peter Westaway, who lives with his wife in an old lighthouse on Lake Erie, said the Sheringham Point Lighthouse caught his eye when he heard the group was in need of financial support – so he sent out a cheque.
“Later when I met the board members and volunteers, I was impressed with the planning expertise and their vision of this site as a coastal asset open to all,” he said.
“I am proud to be able to partner with (Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society) and magnify the substantive community-based financial support they have been given to further this important maritime heritage project.”
The gift requires approximately half the required funds to be raised through the community, a large portion has been completed.
No doubt, there’s still a lot of work left to be done. Currently, the society is trying to restore power to the lighthouse and improve public safety, after which restoration of the tower and engine room will begin, including metal re-fabrication, re-glazing, painting and rustproofing, as well as concrete repairs.
Other plans include having interpretive displays and educational programs at the heritage site.
The Sheringham Point Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2003 to protect, preserve and restore the heritage lighthouse. Ownership of the lighthouse was transferred to the society in 2015.