The Conservative government recently announced the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station in Vancouver, despite warnings from the Liberal Party, for over a year that Search and Rescue (SAR) in Canada was inadequate.
Add to this, the closure of major marine communications stations in Vancouver, Comox, and Tofino leaving only Victoria and Prince Rupert to regulate traffic and give early warning.
Ironically, at the same time the government is spending millions of dollars to celebrate 50 years of the Canadian Coast Guard while cutting $79 million in resources, eliminating up to 763 positions and stretching coast guard regions from 5 to 3, leaving fewer rescuers to cover more ground when responding to emergencies.
This is irresponsible, short-sighted, and a reckless endangerment of life. These decisions have severed vital marine safety links on our coast.
There was no consultation with the BC coast guard, nor with the province, nor with the city, nor with the auxiliary coast guard, nor with any of the communities affected. It was a decision made in Ottawa by DND with no understanding of the needs of the people on our coast.
The BC government to formally protested the closure of the Kits coast guard station and asked the Conservative government to reverse its decision.
The City of Vancouver and Council expressed in a motion, its opposition to the closures and urged the federal government to reverse them since the city does not have the money, nor the resources to pick up the slack.
Even Former Progressive Conservative Fisheries and Environment Minister John Fraser opposes the move.
Here are the facts:
- · The Kitsilano base covers Indian Arm, up the Burrard Inlet, False Creek, and English Bay
- · The port of Vancouver is busiest in Canada
- · It costs approximately $900,000 to run the Kitsilano station for a year
- · By comparison, the federal government could operate the Kitsilano Coast Guard station for over 130 years for the purchase of just one F35 fighter jet
- · Serves 5 million people that come through the port each year
- · Responds to over 350 emergency calls annually, 70 this year alone
- · Response time from Kits is approximately 6 minutes
- · Response time from the Richmond Sea Island base will be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour
This closure will put lives and communities in danger. Hopefully the government will eventually realize its mistake, but unfortunately it appears that only a human tragedy will stop them. LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!
By Hon. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P.