In honour of Heritage Week and this year’s heritage afloat focus, the spotlight is on the Trial Island Lighthouse.
And if that helps the Oak Bay Heritage Commission’s application to have it designated a national, heritage lighthouse, even better.
The commission has been anxiously waiting since May 2012 for the federal government’s decision, which can come anytime from now to May 2015. So far, four B.C. lighthouses have received the designation, including Fisgard in Colwood and Estevan Point on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. A heritage designation would protect the lighthouse from being altered, decommissioned or unmanned without community involvement.
There has been a lighthouse on Trial Island since 1906 and commission chair Bronwyn Taylor said safety is one reason to maintain it.
“The Trial Island lighthouse has saved lives,” Taylor said, explaining the water in that area can be treacherous due to the current and shallow depth. “It is particularly important as a marine aid and will be even more important if the oil tankers get to go up and down the coast.”
Taylor also said the Island is an ecological preserve as it has indigenous plants that can’t be found anywhere else, which is one reason why visiting the Island is not encouraged.
To engage the community, Grade 6 students from Monterey Middle school created a collage of the lighthouse and they will be recognized at a special event on Monday by Oak Bay council. Former senator Pat Carney, who championed for the Heritage Lighthouse act, will also be in attendance.
Heritage commission volunteer Tara Smith said the lighthouse has been a visual, symbolic part of Oak Bay’s heritage for more than a century.
“When you ride your bike, drive your car, or go out boating, you see it and we can relate to it everyday,” Smith said. “Trial Island and its physical viewscape is one of its most redeeming features.”
During heritage week, which wraps up this weekend, the B.C. Maritime Museum is featuring the Trial Island lighthouse with a display. The original red cupola lantern room that houses the glass Fresnel lens can be seen at Bastion Square and numerous Oak Bay businesses are featuring displays about the lighthouse as well.
The special recognition for the Monterey students will be held at Oak Bay municipal hall on Monday, Feb. 24, from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.