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Keep staffing Canada's lighthouses, senators say

Canadian Coast Guard communications officer Steve Bornais walks past the lighthouse which stands in the parking lot at their base in Dartmouth, N.S., on Oct., 2010.

PAUL DARROW/paul darrow The Globe and Mail

A Senate committee that travelled to two provinces to study lighthouses in the country is recommending Ottawa continue staffing the facilities, for now.

The committee says the Department of Fisheries should halt its lighthouse de-staffing plan and suggests future decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

The senators say guidelines and consultations are needed to determine whether keepers should be maintained in Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia.

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Senator Bill Rompkey, chairman of the committee, says they are unanimously recommending continued staffing after hearing overwhelming support for lighthouse personnel on both coasts.

The committee also recommends a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the full range of services provided by staffed lighthouses.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced the review and stalled plans to remove lighthouse keepers amid fierce criticism last year, as some argued the move would cost lives at sea.

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