Archive for the 'Lightkeepers' Category
The Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has asked the department of fisheries and oceans to stop “destaffing” lighthouses until consultation can taken place on a lightstation by lightstation basis.
The committee report, Seeing the Light: Report on Staffed Lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia, comes after hearings and fact finding missions to both east and west coasts.
The report says, “the value of lives saved by lightkeepers is greater than any savings resulting from destaffing.”
PSAC national president John Gordon says the committee is right not to support the Coast Guard’s latest destaffing plan and to conclude that staffed lightstations and lightkeepers play a key role in public safety.
“Finally there is recognition that this is a service that depends on people, not just technology”, says Gordon. “The committee has obviously listened to our members who provide the services and the communities they serve.”
source: The Telegram (St. John’s), Wednesday, October 14, 2009, p. A6
Those in the business of sounding warnings and being alert to danger are looking very carefully at a statement issued on Sept. 30 by Gail Shea, the federal minister responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard, putting the brakes on the controversial plan to de-staff lighthouses in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The minister has ordered a review and while the review is going on, no staff will be removed from light stations. The Public Service Alliance of Canada represents the lightkeepers and while we are glad the plan has been put on hold, we feel no great sense of relief, for several reasons.
It is obvious Gail Shea’s office was deluged with complaints – the minister described it as “concerns raised by a variety of stakeholders” – and the government doesn’t want the bad publicity. But instead of saying the plan to remove staff from all lighthouses is a poor one and will be scrapped, she wants more information about what she calls “the additional services provided by lighthouse staff.” After the review, if it is shown that staff (human beings) are necessary to deliver services, Minister Shea says “this option will receive full consideration.”
We are worried that the so-called review is nothing more than a delaying tactic and, after it is done, lightkeepers will be reassigned as was planned all along. The automated lights will be on, but nobody will be home.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Fisheries Minister Gail Shea has ordered a review of Canadian Coast Guard plans to automate lighthouses in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
It’s the second time in two decades a strong backlash has stalled the coast guard’s effort to de-staff light stations along the west and northeast coasts. In a statement released Wednesday, Shea said safety concerns have been raised by a number of parties over the gradual de-staffing of light stations in the two provinces, so no more automation will take place until the review is complete.
Minister’s decision to de-staff lighthouses dangerous: New Democrats demand decision be reversed immediatelyPublished by Patrick September 22nd, 2009 in Lightkeepers, News / OpEd
OTTAWA – Government plans to de-staff 27 lightstations on the West Coast and nine on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador are dangerous and must be reversed, say New Democrats.
“They want to run oil tankers in and out of some of the most rugged coastline in the world, and now they are saying they want them to do it without the help of lighthouse keepers,” said Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley).
“This minister is completely out of touch with our coastal communities.”
“This decision is very short-sighted,” said New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans Critic Peter Stoffer. “The remaining lightkeepers at these stations provide very important services that, in the interest of public safety and security, cannot be replaced with automated equipment.”
“Quite frankly, our lightkeepers are the eyes and ears of our coastlines. I know personally of situations where, especially in storms, lighthouse keepers have made the difference,” MP Denise Savoie (Victoria) added.
Brothers and Sisters of PSAC, we want to thank all of the Public Servants for all you do. Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members are all part of a safety network for the Canadian people. All of our jobs are connected in some way to the safety and security of the citizens of this country. Lightkeepers are only one of the many faces of that service, but right now we are the one on the block.
On both coasts, and across Canada, the public is in an uproar over the potential loss of the services of lightkeepers. They understand that this is the outpost, the beacon of the their society’s framework of social good. They understand that the abilities of humans cannot be replaced by machines. They understand that investment in the safety of a society pays off. They want to stop the dismantling. We owe it to them, and each other, to help. We cannot allow the government to pick apart public service bit by bit. This is our line in the sand. Let’s push back.
In solidarity, Lightkeepers of BC, Steve Bergh – President, Alice Woods – Vice President, BC Lightkeepers Local 20232 PSAC
Read letters and emails of support from …
- Gulf Trollers Assocation
- Commercial salmon trollers
- Village of Masset
- Area A Crab Association
- Pacific Coast Shrimpers Cooperative Association
Please ask you members to sign the attached Lightstation Petition in support of our cause and then to return the petition to the Victoria Regional Office at the following address: 210-1497 Admirals Rd Victoria, BC V9A 2P8. Please return the signed Petitions by October 15, 2009.
source: The Globe and Mail
A lighthouse keeper’s schedule comes with a clock that never stops ticking, with tides that rise and fall and rise again, with winds that howl when not calm, with a radio that at any time can bring news of desperation.
Steve Bergh has kept an eye on the coast of Vancouver Island for 27 of his 59 years. For the past two decades, he has been based at Chatham Point Lightstation, about 40 kilometres north of Campbell River.
He lives in a house with his wife, Alice Woods, on a bluff overlooking the confluence of Discovery Passage and Johnstone Strait. A small building houses a fog signal. The yard includes a helicopter landing pad.