Kits Coast Guard base shut down by federal gov’t
Jeff Lawrence, CTV British Columbia
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 3:17PM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:22PM PST
The Kitsilano Coast Guard Station was suddenly and permanently closed Tuesday, a move that supporters called “outrageous.”
The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees said it was informed by the federal government that the station would be closing effective immediately.
The government said in January that the station was slated for closure this spring.
The closure has been in the works since last year, when the federal government announced it would save $700,000 annually by shutting down the station.
But several unions protested the plan, saying not having a Coast Guard would be a risk to public safety.
“Even after Vancouver City Council did a report stating clearly that most deaths and serious injuries in our habour occur in the winter months, the Conservative government still closes this station,” said Bob Jackson, spokesman for the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
UTCE held an emergency rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday outside the Coast Guard station.
UCTE president Christine Collins voiced her disappointment in a media release.
“To suddenly close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that serves Canada’s busiest port in the middle of the winter with no notice is simply outrageous,” Collins said.
“I don’t want to be in the position of saying ‘we told you so’ when tragedy strikes, but that’s what this decision will mean.”
Even Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson weighed in on the decision, saying in a written statement it was “unfortunate” that the city wasn’t notified in advance that the closure would take effect Tuesday.
“Vancouver is one of the busiest harbours in North America and has depended on robust search and rescue services that are professionally-trained and fully-resourced by the federal government,” he said.
“I encourage citizens to continue to make their opinions known to all Members of Parliament representing citizens in Vancouver and across B.C.”
The base’s duties are to be replaced by a temporary rescue boat stationed at Stanley Park from May to September, search-and-rescue staff from a Richmond-based hovercraft operation and additional volunteers.