By Joyce Murray, The Daily News
On August 4th, the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Station once again proved its effectiveness in handling marine emergencies. They were quickly on the scene after a cruise ship carrying 250 passengers collided with two boats during a fireworks show in Vancouver’s English Bay. I wish to offer my congratulations to the search and rescue specialists for their speedy and effective response. The Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard has a proud history of keeping the people of Vancouver’s harbour safe and it is a tradition worthy of celebration and admiration.
Unfortunately, the Harper Conservative government has made an irresponsible decision to close the base in 2013, which will have a dramatic impact on the safety of one of Canada’s busiest coastal communities.
The recent incident in English Bay highlights the necessity to keep the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Station open. Thankfully, the collision did not result in any serious injuries, but Coast Guard responders arrived ready to respond to any crisis. The Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is the frontline for safety on the waters of British Columbia’s lower mainland and is the focal point for safety to Canada’s busiest marine port. If the Conservative government decides to go ahead with the base closure, the nearest response team will be stationed 17 nautical miles away in Richmond—which means longer response times, especially in rough weather, and a greater chance of disaster.
At my recent community meeting on the issue of the closure, citizens as well as marine safety professionals emphasized the importance of the rescue station to Vancouver’s safety. To this end, I introduced a motion in the House of Commons, M-396, calling on the government to recognize the importance of the Kitsilano CCG Station to the area’s emergency preparedness and to retain its current operational level.
The Conservative government must not wait for disaster to strike to acknowledge the need for skilled search and rescue responders at the Kitsilano base. The Conservatives should move immediately to reverse their irresponsible decision, which compromises the safety of those who live and work on the water for the sake of their bottom line.
Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra
Liberal Party of Canada Critic for Small Business and Tourism