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Peggys Cove lighthouse crumbling

06/16/2012 08:48 EDT | Updated 08/16/2012 05:12 EDT

The iconic lighthouse at Peggys Cove is falling into disrepair as Nova Scotia and the federal government continue talks about who will be responsible for the structure in the future.

From afar, the lighthouse seems picture-perfect, but on closer inspection it's easy to see concrete crumbling from the side of the structure and its peeling paint.

"I think the condition is deplorable, and it doesn't say anything for our Nova Scotia tourism when they allow something like this to go on," said Marg Sullivan, who sells Peggys Cove prints.

"When you come up, you can tell that clearly nobody's taking care of it anymore," said Faron White, who visited the site with his family Saturday. "It's sort of a shame. We don't have a lot of tourist attractions here in the area so the least they could do is maintain this properly."

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia estimates one million people visit the lighthouse every year.

One tour guide said the condition of the building is so bad, he now offers visitors on his bus an explanation.

"I explain to them that the federal government doesn't see a need for lighthouses at this stage in the game with so many more modern navigational aids," said John Thomas of Ambassatours. "They don't want to fund them, they don't want to look after them, and we in Nova Scotia we think that's wrong."

However, dealing with the problem is not as straightforward as sending someone the tab. Peggys Cove is owned by the federal government, which is currently getting out of the lighthouse business. The Nova Scotia government is in negotiations to take over the site, but no date has been set for completion of the talks.

In 2009, the lighthouse was in a similar state. The federal government spent an estimated $25,000 to repaint the 15- metre-tall structure.

But Bruce Stephen, who sells postcards at the site, said the investment was worthwhile and can't see why it can't continue.

"Quite frankly, I don't understand it. This probably should be painted every year. It's an iconic lighthouse. It says Nova Scotia, no matter where you go in the world, and yet we can't get paint on it."

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