City to consider spending $25,000 to study Beach Canal Lighthouse

The city’s planning committee has approved paying for a $25,000 engineering study of the vacant Beach Canal Lighthouse and keeper’s cottage on Hamilton’s Beach Strip.

But members of a volunteer group dedicated to preserving the 1858 structure are a little afraid what the assessment might disclose.

Stewart Patch, group secretary of the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group, said an earlier study in 2005 found “the buildings were basically in sound shape,” but there were gaps in masonry joints that could have worsened, potentially causing structural issues over the past 14 years.

Repairs were never made, he said.

Coun. Chad Collins, who introduced the motion for the $25,000 study, said the assessment would “identify any steps that should be taken immediately to arrest denigration of the light tower and keeper’s cottage.”

But the bigger issue, he said, is figuring out a viable long-term use for the facilities.

“There is almost unanimous agreement in the neighbourhood and the broader community about the heritage importance of the lighthouse. But the outstanding question mark is what is next for these facilities,” Collins said.

He noted that moving forward is complicated by the fact that Fisheries and Oceans Canada owns the lighthouse and cottage, whereas Public Works owns the land on which the buildings sit.

The Hamilton Port Authority is in discussions with the federal departments about taking over the facilities and the lands and turning them into a museum.

But Collins said there are also issues previously brought forward by Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation about objects falling off the bridge from traffic — and that large numbers of people should not be encouraged to gather under the bridge because of the possibility.

As well, the lighthouse falls within a security zone of the nearby lift bridge and part of the area is blocked by a fence.

Collins said the $25,000 assessment will not be funded through taxes but from a reserve for beach strip projects.

The proposal will go to city council for final approval on Wednesday.

mmcneil@thespec.com

905-526-4687 | @Markatthespec

mmcneil@thespec.com

905-526-4687 | @Markatthespec