Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stop the closure of Vancouver's Kitsilano Coast Guard Station!

UPDATE APRIL 2016:  Despite all the protests, the Harper Conservative Government did indeed close (and strip) the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in 2013. In October 2015, the Harper government was defeated and replaced by a Liberal Government headed by Justin Trudeau. Keeping their promise made during the election campaign, the Liberals re-opened the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in April 2016. 

June 2012 post:

In response to significant budget cuts by the Harper Conservative (Federal) government to the  Department of Fisheries and Oceans (parent department of the Canadian Coast Guard), the Coast Guard has announced it plans to close Vancouver's Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

Plans are not fully laid out, but apparently, the main base will be in the currently existing Coast Guard Station on Sea Island (near Vancouver's airport) on the Fraser River -- quite a distance from where all the activity is in English Bay/Howe Sound/Burrard Inlet. Also, apparently, there will be increased reliance on a seasonal (May-Sept) "inshore boat"  and volunteer auxiliary coast guard.

What happens when sh&T hits the fan in the middle of the night? Or in the Winter?  If the responders do respond, how long will they take and how well trained will they be? (The Sea Island station is about 16 nm away from the First Narrows by boat or hovercraft (although boats are severely limited, as there is a 2-metre height restriction for the Dinsmore Bridge, effectively ruling out any response using boats); the Kitsilano station is only 3.5 nm from the First Narrows. Hmmm, one could be on the rocks/in the water before the Sea Island responders arrive.)

Vancouver has the busiest harbour in Canada, and the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is one of the busiest in the country.

Just this morning, the Kitsilano station had to respond to a distress situation in the early pre-dawn hours.

There was no prior consultation with stakeholders (including the auxiliary coast guard) prior to this decision -- now there is a major backlash by the public over this decision (but still the government is suggesting it will not back down).

This closure must be stopped!