PHASE 1 – SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2016
- EROSION CONTROL
This will require filling along both sides of the causeway, at the narrow pinch-point, that is currently eroding. It will involve placement of boulders, with additional fill along the west side, and construction of a small retaining wall, with fill behind it, on the east side (all of this will be above tide-line).
Rationale: This area has been eroding for years, due to weather and water action, and will continue to erode to the point that access to the Lighthouse structures may be severed if remedial action is not taken.
Heritage context: This area was, originally, a gulley and direct pathway access to the Lighthouse was not possible. It was filled in during the early years of operation, and has been refilled over the years. At one point (in the 1960s) concrete topping was poured over the fill on the east side – this is now largely gone.
- RESTORING POWER TO THE SITE
Some years ago, power to the Lighthouse Tower and the Engine Room was disconnected, due to safety concerns. Power will now be restored to the site, but in a new and different way. The Society will be installing a solar power array in the lower field, just outside of the existing fence. This solar array will provide adequate power to meet all operational needs in the Tower and Engine Room and, in particular, it will help stem the corrosion of the Lighthouse lantern room by providing heat and air circulation. Also, this system will be tied in to the BC Hydro grid, so that we will be able to use BC Hydro as a backup if necessary, as well as being able to feed any surplus power the array generates back into the grid.
This part of the project will involve installation of the solar array, installation of an electrical shed, and the digging of trenches to connect the power from the array to the shed and from the array to the engine room. When the solar array has been installed, it will be fenced for protection, with appropriate landscaping. Once power is restored, heat and air circulation will be added to the tower, in order to keep the condensation down (and therefore help control corrosion of metal components in the tower), as well as restoring lighting. This system will provide power for operations such as the whale monitoring station, and therefore allow removal of the existing (temporary) solar panels from the roof of the engine room.
Rationale: Without this work, the tower (in particular the lantern room) and the engine room will continue to deteriorate to the point that they will be entirely unusable. This work is also critical to allowing any use of the engine room for visitation or other operations. Siting of the new solar array and electrical shed further up the slope, away from the more sensitive “heritage precinct” (which we have designated as the area immediately surrounding the tower and engine room, up to the lower fence), allows us to retain the heritage precinct in its current (historical) form, without extensive intrusion of new features.
Heritage context: Power has always been provided on site, both from the BC Hydro grid, as well as from alternate means such as generators. In more recent years, the Coast Guard and Environment Canada both moved to providing power for the beacon and the weather station with solar power. The Lighthouse site, when it was a functioning Lighthouse, was a pragmatic industrial operation, using current and appropriate technology to meet its needs. The use of solar power, instead of generators to meet our power needs is, we believe, in keeping with this approach.
- SAFETY UPGRADES
Existing safety railings around the engine room will be upgraded with infill horizontal cables to prevent anyone (particularly children) from accidentally falling through the rails. Hand holds to the rails along the pathway across the causeway will be installed and the rails will also be extended right up to the lighthouse structures. A new, small section of concrete pathway will be added in front of the engine room, to connect the existing pathway to the lookout. As well, small barriers will be located on the roof of the engine room to prevent unauthorized access. In addition, various hazardous points around the site with will be identified with appropriate (yet not intrusive) caution signage.
Rationale: Visitors are now being invited to the site to enjoy this passive park, and to learn more about the lighthouse and its history. It is a priority to ensure that experience is safe and rewarding. There are many hazards on this site, from steep cliff edges, potentially extreme weather and water conditions at times, uneven ground and other tripping hazards. While entrance to the site is “at your own risk”, the Society wants to be as cautious as possible and reduce as many hazards as we can (without unduly changing the nature of the site). The new section of pathway is intended to encourage visitors to stay on the defined paths as much as possible, and away from cliff edges. Finally, and unfortunately, some irresponsible people have been climbing on to the roof of the engine room, which is very dangerous, requiring the addition of some barriers to prevent any access.
Heritage context: On-site safety has always been a primary consideration of the Lighthouse operations, and has been tailored toward its users. As the range of users is now being expanded (i.e. including children, elderly people and those with limited agility) the site must, accordingly, also have expanded safety measures. All adjustments to the existing site infrastructure will be kept to a minimum, and will be as non-intrusive as possible in order to retain the original appearance as much as possible.
- ACCESS TRAIL
A new, small trail access from the upper gate entrance to the lower field will be cleared and built, to provide a more interesting, relaxed, and hopefully less strenuous path to the lighthouse.
Rationale: The “driveway” that is currently used as the access path was intended for the use of service vehicles, and has no features of particular interest along its route. The new trail will showcase the natural vegetation on the site and provide viewpoints to give alternate views of the lighthouse, as well as being a pathway through the site that less strenuous to walk (especially coming back up!) than the driveway, which is difficult for many people to manage. It will be the natural and long-planned extension of Jennie’s Trail from the small parking area to the heritage site. The trail will now connect the entire 4 kilometer trail obtained by the Society in 2009 to the lighthouse property trail thus having a complete trail system in the area.
Heritage context: There is no particular heritage context or issue for this feature, other than that the entrance to the Lighthouse environs has previously always been from the east. The new trail access will restore that access feature.
- ROAD UPGRADES
Grading, smoothing and chip-sealing will be done on the public access section of Sheringham Point Road, between the upper and lower parking lots, especially on the steeper portions which are currently eroding. Several “passing areas” – i.e. small pullouts that will allow vehicles to pass one another on the road – will also be cleared. Once completed, a suggested speed limit of 20 km/hr on this section of the road will be set.
Rationale: This work is required as part of the operating agreement with the Capital Regional District to allow continued public use of Sheringham Point Road and the lower parking lot as the access route for the Lighthouse, (as always has been the case). It requires that the road be brought up to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure standards. Plans are now in place, approved by the CRD and the Ministry, and the Society will be implementing those plans over the coming months. The CRD is assisting by providing funding for this component of the project (thank you to Regional Director Mike Hicks).
Heritage context: The heritage context for this component is that Sheringham Point Road has traditionally and historically been the means of access to the Lighthouse Site. Access and easements were negotiated by SPLPS from the developer at the time the parking lot (and the loop trail) were obtained by the Society, and the Society is retaining those easements.
PHASE 2 – JANUARY TO JUNE, 2017
- RESTORATION OF THE LANTERN ROOM
The lantern room, atop of the Lighthouse tower, is seriously corroding, and work to restore the structure will be undertaken to prevent further deterioration. This work will involve stripping the existing paint (exterior and interior), and refabricating the metal structure on site. Once the frame is rebuilt, at least twenty windows which are currently broken will be replaced. Only 12 replacement windows are on hand, and therefore the remainder will be manufactured at a specialty glass fabrication shop (due to the unique size and curved shape). The lantern room door is in quite poor condition and will likely need to be removed and rebuilt at the metal fabrication shop, then re-mounted. Vents in the lantern room (many of which are now painted shut) will be re-opened. When all is completed, both the interior and exterior of lantern room will be repainted using the traditional red colour scheme.
To complete this work (as well as the work on the tower – see below) scaffolding around the tower and the lantern room will be erected in order to provide access. Understandably, this work will be weather sensitive – high winds and harsh conditions will create severely unsafe conditions – and so it will be undertaken later in the spring when the weather conditions improve.
Rationale: The lantern room, which traditionally houses the lens for the lighthouse beacon, is the focal point of the Lighthouse. The condition assessment identified serious corrosion, mostly due to weather and to ingress of moisture within the lantern room. While the main plates are in acceptable condition, the window frames, door, exterior rails and ladders and parts of the roof are poor and need to be rebuilt. Without this work, the integrity of the entire structure will be compromised, and will be unsafe for the Society to maintain.
Heritage context: As this is, perhaps, the most sensitive and noticeable component of the heritage nature of the Lighthouse, (and one of the “character defining elements” of the Statement of Significance) great care will be taken to ensure that the restoration maintains the heritage values and character of the lantern room. Re-fabrication of any metal components that are severely corroded will be done to match as closely as possible the original structure. Replacement windows will be exact duplicates of the existing windows. Repainting will match the current colour schemes.
- RESTORATION OF THE LIGHTHOUSE TOWER
Some minor repairs (patching) will be made to the exterior concrete fabric of the lighthouse, and then the entire exterior of the tower will be repainted. The two small windows on the tower will be re-opened. Minor concrete repair (patching) will also be required on the interior. Both the interior walls and the staircase will be repainted. The old electrical panel and other electrical components inside the tower (heaters, lights) will be replaced. or repurposed depending on viability assessment. The wooden door jamb around the entrance door at the foot of the tower is showing signs of rot, and will be repaired and/or replaced as required.
Rationale: The condition assessment found the tower structure to be in relatively good shape, with only some minor concrete issues and aging paint – thanks to the good work of DFO and the Coast Guard. The paint is also marred by rust runoff from the lantern room at the top. Work done now to repair the concrete and repaint the tower is good maintenance practice and will prevent further deterioration. Once this phase of the restoration work is completed, a cyclical maintenance schedule will be implemented to ensure the facilities remain in good condition.
Heritage context: As it is one of the “character defining elements” of the heritage site, great care will be taken to ensure that restoration work on the tower will maintain its heritage values and character. Patching will be minimal, and repainting will maintain the existing colour scheme.
- RESTORATION OF THE ENGINE ROOM
Repairs (patching) will be made to the concrete around the base of the engine room, as well as patching a few spots on the building itself. The engine room, both interior and exterior (as well as the roof) will be repainted in the current colour scheme. The old electrical conduits will be removed and replaced with new electrical connections, and the electrical components inside the building (panel, heater and lights) will be renewed. The corroded vent hood adjacent to the door will be repaired. Some minor adjustments to the concrete stairs at the front of the engine room will also be required to make them even (and safe), and the missing handrails will be restored.
Rationale: The condition assessment found that the engine room was in relatively good shape, requiring only some concrete patching and painting. Some patches of concrete damage are continuing to deteriorate and, if left untreated, will become problematic. The remainder of the work on the engine room is intended primarily to increase its usability and functionality as – at least for the next few years – it will become the focal point for supportive activities on site, including the whale monitoring and some storage.
Heritage Context: As it is one of the “character defining elements” of the site, great care will be taken to ensure that restoration work on the engine room will maintain its heritage value and character. No changes of any significance will be made to the engine room structure. The changes to the stairs will be minimal (and are made for safety reasons), however this will be accomplished by adding material to the existing stairs, and leaving the current materials in place. The addition of railings along the stairs will replace railings that were once in place, but were removed at some point. The engine room has always provided a location on site for a variety of activities to support the site’s operations, and that function will be continued, albeit with a different set of support activities.
- ADDITIONAL SITE SECURITY MEASURES
Additional security measures will be added in the vicinity of the Lighthouse and at the entrance gate, to help protect the site from vandalism and inappropriate activity. This will include replacement of the current (and flimsy) chain-link gate with a more secure gate and fence. This gate will also be significantly more visually appealing, to provide a fitting and appropriate entrance to this substantial community and national amenity.
Rationale: Unfortunately, this site has been subjected to considerable acts of vandalism in the past. While those acts have been reduced in recent years, they are still continuing to some extent. As it becomes increasingly well-known and understood that Sheringham Point is no longer a seemingly “abandoned government site”, but that it is now a nationally designated heritage site and a thriving community amenity, owned and operated by a local community volunteer organization, that inappropriate activity will decline even further and eventually cease altogether. In the interim, the Society’s volunteers and the Security Alarm company will continue to monitor the site diligently.
Heritage context: Security measures have always been a component of site operations. However, with the site being occupied in the past, those measure were of a different nature. With the use of technology, we can provide security for the site without being intrusive or changing in any way the nature and character of the site.
- REPLANTING AND SITE FOLIAGE RESTORATION
Due to the need for trenching, clearing and equipment access, a number of areas of vegetation will be dug up or disrupted during the restoration work. As a component of this plan, those areas will be replanted with native vegetation as appropriate.
Rationale: The areas disturbed by the restoration and power supply work will regenerate naturally over time, however we want to encourage that regeneration to occur as quickly as possible and also to ensure that appropriate native vegetation gets a strong foothold in the disturbed areas. Without this direct intervention, it would be expected that invasive species, such as Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberry will take over. This work will be done as part of a larger landscaping plan, which is currently under development.
Heritage Context: The site was, of course, covered by native vegetation typical of the area when it was acquired by the government for the Lighthouse site to be developed. Over the years significant parts of the site (around the Lighthouse structures and the lightkeepers’ houses) were cleared and much of the native vegetation replaced with grass. As well, the lightkeeper families planted ornamentals, fruit trees and other vegetation. An inventory of the vegetation on site is being developed and determinations made as to how to re-landscape the site, both to address the restoration disruption, as well as the longer term needs of the site.
PHASE 3 – SUMMER 2017, ONGOING
- ACCESS ISSUES FOR ELDERLY PERSONS AND THOSE WITH DISABILITIES
To assist persons with physical limitations to better access and enjoy the site, consideration is being given to installing a couple of on-site amenities. Consultations are still pending with advocates for the physically challenged to determine specifics, however it is expected these amenities may include a couple of benches placed at strategic locations on the site (locations still to be determined). In addition, a viewing platform may be built at the top of the site (adjacent to the entrance gate) which would be wheelchair accessible and which would provide an unobstructed view of the Lighthouse, its surrounding lands and the seascape behind it. Interpretive information that will be primarily located further down the site may also be replicated at the viewing platform. More details may emerge as the consultations progress over the coming months.
Rationale: The intention is to ensure that all residents and visitors will be able to enjoy this passive park and learn more about the Lighthouse, regardless of their abilities. However, due to the terrain and the heritage nature of the Lighthouse structures themselves, full access to every part of the site might not be available to everyone – especially into the Lighthouse tower and engine room. Efforts are underway to find the most effective way to accommodate people with physical limitations to provide the best access and most rewarding visitor experience that we can, within the limitations of our budget and the site.
Heritage context: There is no particular heritage context for this issue. As a working industrial site in a remote location, the expectations have always been that anyone accessing the site would be physically able. It appears that no accommodations for those with physical challenges have previously been made.
- FURTHER LANDSCAPING
Beyond the work required to address the disruption caused by the restoration work, over time the Society will develop and implement a comprehensive landscaping plan for the site. This will focus particularly on the heritage precinct, the lower field and the area around the location of the former lightkeeper’s residence. The work will include removal of invasive species and replanting, as appropriate, native vegetation. Consultation with respect to this work will also be undertaken with local First Nations.
Rationale: Left unattended, significant parts of the site will be over-run by several invasive species, especially Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberry. These species cannot be allowed to gain any greater foothold on the site than they already have.
Heritage context: See above “Replanting and Site Foliage Restoration” in Phase 2. A comprehensive landscaping plan will address the often conflicting and changing issues of the traditional site vegetation (native species), the cleared uses (grass) as maintained by the Coast Guard, and the household uses of the lightkeepers’ families.
- FURTHER RESTORATION OF THE LANTERN ROOM
The potential of re-installing the Fresnel lens in the lantern room is being investigated. The lens is currently in storage with the Sooke Museum. It was removed from the site for security reasons, and was placed in storage with the museum for safe keeping. There are many considerations yet to be taken into account, such as the condition of the lens, whether or not it is complete (or, complete enough to allow its installation), and whether or not the lantern room housing can be rebuilt to accommodate the lens. Other considerations include determining how to get the lens back into the lantern room (it weighs almost 1000 kg), and then also determining how best to provide access to visitors to actually see the lens once it is installed. Plans will be developed over the coming months, in consultation with museum and heritage experts.
Rationale: It goes without saying that the heart of a lighthouse is its light. The fact that Sheringham Point’s light is still (largely) intact after more than a hundred years is remarkable and provides tremendous opportunities for interpretation and education.
Heritage context: The lens at Sheringham Point Lighthouse was a 3rd Order Fresnel Lens. The lens was removed in 1976 and eventually became part of the Sooke Museum’s collection. A component of the lens is on display, but the remainder is in storage. Originally the 6 ft tall lens sat on a structure that contained a bed of mercury that allowed the lens to turn. It was operated by a series of weights and pulleys that needed to be re-wound every three hours. Further research will be required to determine the extent to which the original mechanism can be re-installed and/or re-interpreted.
- FURTHER VISITOR AMENITIES
Over the coming months the Society will be consulting further with the community and with site visitors to determine whether any additional visitor amenities are required on site. Care will be taken in making such determinations to ensure that the intent and ambience of this site as a “passive park” is not compromised and that the Society honours its commitment to the community and public in general to preserve and protect the site, tower and historic public access.
Rationale: While our vision (and that of our community) for this site has always been the protection and conservation of the Lighthouse within the environs of a “passive park”, we also want to encourage visitors and to have them learn about the Lighthouse and our community’s history. Further consultations will help determine whether these (sometimes) competing objectives are best met directly on-site, or whether some of these functions are better addressed off-site.
Heritage context: There is no particular heritage context or issue pertaining to this, other than the intention to protect the integrity, character and heritage values of the site, as well as to maintain unobstructed viewscapes and the overall ambience of this community amenity.