Lion's Head lighthouse future is bright but it may be moved

The damaged south side of the Lion's Head lighthouse on Nov. 3, 2019 in Lion's Head, Ont., following Halloween night storm. Tanis Henderson photo supplied to The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

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Since the Lion’s Head Lighthouse was battered last week by a second recent storm, which stripped off siding and exposed the wooden structure inside, the municipality will be looking at possibly moving the beloved local landmark a little.

The storm on Halloween night stripped all the cladding from the south side of the lighthouse. A similar storm two weeks earlier did much the same to the eastern, water side of the lighthouse.

It was patched when the second storm hit. Photos show it could use more temporary repairs again even before permanent repairs can be made in spring.

Lion’s Head lighthouse’s damaged east side facing the bay, taken on Nov. 3, 2019 following the Halloween night storm in Lion’s Head, Ont. Tanis Henderson photo supplied to The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

Bill Jones, Northern Bruce Peninsula’s chief administrative officer, said in an interview that staff is waiting for better weather to board up the latest damage.

“The plan is by next week we hope to have it closed in for the winter.”

But in the spring, a broader look at the future lighthouse will be undertaken, Jones said.

This will include “making more permanent repairs, discussing its location and if there’s anything we need to do with this location to prevent these kind of things from happening again,” he said.

“But we recognize we’re obviously going to see more storms like this, with the high water levels. And so anything we do in the way of a permanent fix, we need to make sure that it’s going to last.”

Water levels haven’t been this high in Georgian Bay since 1986.

The lighthouse is municipally owned, built by high school students in 1983 based on plans for the 1911 original. The federal government maintains the navigation light in the lighthouse now, down by the marina.

Jones said the lighthouse would be repaired.

“I would almost guarantee with this community that not having a lighthouse is not an option. So there will be a lighthouse there. We just need to figure out what that’s going to be and whether its location needs to be right there or moved marginally to protect it somehow.”

Northern Bruce Peninsula Coun. Megan Myles said she posted to her councillor Facebook page pictures of the lighthouse after the latest storm. The lighthouse repairs should be considered in the context of the overall needs at the Lion’s Head waterfront, she said in an interview.

“At council, we have discussed a Lion’s Head waterfront plan,” Myles said. “So we need to address erosion, we need to address high water levels. We need to address geese and what’s happening in this area.

“Because we can only just do these short-term fixes for so long. And it would be good to have a kind of a broader strategy. So hopefully that will be approved in the 2020 budget.”

Lion’s Head resident Tanis Henderson was down at the lighthouse Sunday with her family. Her pictures of the lighthouse show the extent of the latest damage.

She said there’s concern in the community about the lighthouse and even preliminary talk of a community effort to fix it.

“That lighthouse means a lot to the community, whether its pictures of our kids at Grade 8 grad or whether it’s in the background of the Grade 12 grad photos, it’s just kind of like a place where all the locals congregate.

“It’s a pretty scene, regardless of whether your skipping rocks or walking on the breakwall or swimming or diving off the pier. It’s just it’s always been there.”