Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Métis Lighthouse Preservation Project
1. What is the Métis Lighthouse Preservation Project? For more than a decade, three organizations - Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence (HLSL, a regional not-for-profit cultural organization), the Association des résidents de la pointe du phare (ARPP, a local citizen group) and the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer– have come together to develop a plan for the restoration and operation of the lighthouse site. This plan has become the Lighthouse Preservation Project, a collaborative effort to acquire and preserve this important community icon.
2. Is the site a public park? No. Although the site is now owned by the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer, the Association des résidents de la pointe du phare (ARPP) has leased the site for 15 years. The association must, however, allow access to the general public for at least 90 days each year during reasonable hours.
3. Is there public access to the site now? Yes. As part of the preservation project, the lighthouse site was opened to the general public in June 2019. Before that time, the site was closed to prevent interference with navigational operations and scientific activities. The site is currently open from 9 AM to 5 PM every day.
4. Why can’t I drive to the site? From a practical perspective, there is only a narrow private road leading to the site and no on-site parking. Moreover, with the site now open to the public, an increase in vehicular traffic would endanger pedestrians and disturb the tranquil nature of this neighbourhood. Visitors arriving by car are thus required to use the parking area available at the head of Lighthouse Road and then walk to the site – a 15‑minute stroll through the picturesque neighbourhood of the point.
5. Is there a museum there? No. The site is being managed for the ambiance of the site within its historical context and surrounded by the natural beauty of the sea and sky. Some self-guided information is provided at the site, but lighthouse enthusiasts are encouraged to visit lighthouses in nearby Rimouski or Matane to tour lighthouse towers and their history.
6. Can I go up the lighthouse tower? No. The interior of the lighthouse tower is closed to the general public due to staffing limitations (the site is managed by volunteers) and liability concerns. However, Parks Canada offers guided tours of their lighthouse located at the Site Historique Maritime de Pointe-au-Père in nearby Rimouski.
7. Is there beach access at the site? Yes. Visitors can access the beaches adjacent to the site. However, to prevent unnecessary coastal erosion, only designated access points should be used.
8. Is the site contaminated? Past operations of the lighthouse by the government of Canada left behind contaminants, including heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Contaminated soils were removed by the federal government in 2010, and as a precautionary measure, the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer removed the mercury from the light-rotation mechanism in 2017. There are no known hazards to public safety at this time.
9. When will the light be restored? The restoration of the light has been identified as a top priority, but the site must first be made operational in order to generate revenue and ensure the lighthouse is protected from further damage from the elements. Efforts are currently underway to find the expertise and funding necessary to undertake this work.
10. Is the lighthouse a designated historic site? Yes, the Pointe-Mitis lighthouse was designated as a heritage lighthouse by the government of Canada in 2016. The site and buildings were also designated as a heritage property (“site patrimonial”) by the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer and form part of the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec.
11. What is the ARPP? The ARPP is the Association des résidents de la pointe du phare, a not-for-profit group consisting of people living along the Route du Phare. Incorporated in 2006, the ARPP’s mission is to guide the development and ensure the preservation of the lighthouse site. Since 2010 it has collaborated with the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer and Heritage Lower Saint Lawrence in these efforts. Its volunteers currently operate and manage the lighthouse site under a 15-year emphyteutic lease from the Ville de Métis-sur-Mer.