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Future uncertain for Peggy's Cove lighthouse

Kristy Brownlee.

By Kristy Brownlee, Postmedia Network

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)

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It's featured on postcards, in patriotic beer commercials and Canadian tourist brochures around the world. But Nova Scotia's iconic Peggy's Cove lighthouse may be erased from Canada's skyline if a group doesn't step in to care for the popular tourist attraction before the end of May.

The picturesque lighthouse, perched on a rocky face about 40 km southwest of Halifax, is one of about 500 lighthouses across Canada that face demolition after the department of fisheries and oceans decided in 2010 they're outdated and too expensive to maintain.

The government will, however, under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, hand over the operation and maintenance of the lighthouses to qualifying community groups. The deadline to submit a petition and business plan is fast approaching on May 29.

The original Peggy's Cove lighthouse was built in 1868 and attracts half a million visitors from around the world every year.

Judy Dauphinee, a manager at the Sou'Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop adjacent to lighthouse, said the community is frustrated by the uncertain future and the unkempt condition of the historical landmark.

"It's an icon for this community and this province -- and even this country -- and it looks like heck. It seems a little frustrating when you have a fixture next door to you and the paint is peeling off of it and at this point we don't even know who to ask to fix it," she said.

Barry MacDonald, president of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society, said the province may take over operation of Peggy's Cove as it's likely too large of an undertaking for a small community group.

The government plans to swap the lighthouses with inexpensive steel towers to aid in navigation.


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