by Kathy Johnson
A community based effort to raise the funds needed to paint the iconic Cape Sable lighthouse is starting to gain momentum.
“We’re really pushing to get it done this year,” said Leigh Stoddart, Mayor for the Town of Clark’s Harbour and spokesperson for the group, Friends of the Cape Light, following a meeting of the group on Jan. 21.
“We’re putting a plea out to the public asking for financial support,” said Stoddart. “We want people to make a one time donation so we can get over this first hump.”
With an estimate of $95,000 on the table to repair the exterior concrete and give the 101 foot structure three coats of paint, Stoddart said the group is hoping to be able to raise at least half the funds, which in turn has the potential to leverage funding from the three levels of government to cover the remaining costs of the project.
“It would only take 200 people to give $200 to raise $40,000,” said Stoddart.
Various fundraising ideas were discussed by the group at the meeting, said Stoddart, including the installation of a sign at The Hawk to recognize financial contributors to the project, and the sale of ‘shares’ in the Cape Light in the form of a certificate, as a gift idea for the person who has everything.
Friends of the Cape Light also plan to develop a website and a facebook group, said Stoddart, adding Halifax videographer Clark Swimm, who is a member of the group, also has plans to initiate a fundraiser to benefit the Cape Light. Swimm, who has family ties to Clark’s Harbour, has already produced one video in tribute of the Cape Light.
Built in 1923/24, the Cape Light is the tallest lighthouse in Nova Scotia. Located on the Cape Ledge, a small island off The Hawk on Cape Sable Island, the eight sided structure has been in desperate need of a paint job for well over a decade.
“As a Town, we’ve been pushing to have it done for at least 10 years,” said Stoddart, but the project has not been a priority for the federal government.
As it is, the Cape Sable lighthouse along with nine other Shelburne County beacons were declared surplus property by the federal government in 2010. The Cape Light as well as the other lights were nominated for protection under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act by last year’s deadline, but before the structures will be considered for protection under the Act, the petitioning groups have to submit business plans to the federal government for the continued care of the structure.
Stoddart said at this time, the focus of the group is simply to get the lighthouse painted. The Friends of the Cape Light will be meeting again on Monday, Feb. 18 at the town hall in Clark’s Harbour, starting at 10:30 a.m. Anyone interested is invited to attend.