For immediate release
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Conservative MPs in Greater Vancouver ignored a request to help reverse their government’s decision to put lives at risk for a minimal savings of $800,000 a year. The Canadian Coast Guard Kitsilano Search and Rescue (S&R) base in Vancouver, which responds to over 300 calls each year, is slated to be closed in 2013. Vancouver will lose an essential marine emergency response which retired Coast Guard officers and volunteer S&R coordinators claim will result in preventable loss of life.
On June 18, Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra Joyce Murray, and Vancouver Centre’s Liberal MP Hedy Fry, wrote to Conservative MPs in the Greater Vancouver Area including North Vancouver, West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country, and Port Moody–Westwood–Port Coquitlam, asking them to support Ms Murray’s motion M-396, which calls on the government to reverse its decision to shutter the base. None of the Conservative MPs have responded.
“You need only go for a walk on Jericho Beach to see that thousands of people are part of Burrard Inlet’s marine traffic. Vancouver Harbour has cruise ships, containers, bulk freighters, crude oil tanker traffic, tugs, barges, tour boats intermingled with sailboats, kayaks, windsurfers, speedboats, and a wide variety of homemade recreational boats and swimmers,” said Murray. “Conservative MPs must stand up for the safety of their constituents, not accept this reckless decision.”
During a recent visit to Vancouver, Federal Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield defended the Kitsilano coast guard base closure saying it was for fiscal reasons. No local or provincial government or Search and Rescue stakeholders were consulted prior to the closure decision. On the contrary, the B.C. government had been calling for more western Coast Guard coverage to deal with anticipated increases in shipping traffic, including planned increased tanker traffic.
“The Coast Guard station at Kitsilano is professionally staffed 24 hours a day. Closing the base will mean rescue response to the most congested waters in Canada will come from a hovercraft stationed at the Sea Island Coast Guard station in Richmond 17 nautical miles away,” said Dr. Fry.
According to Murray, “Dramatically increasing S&R response times to double the current standard will put lives at risk. Keeping our boaters safe must be a non-partisan priority.”
For more information contact:
Office of Joyce Murray
M-396 — June 15, 2012 — Ms. Murray (Vancouver Quadra) — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize that the Canadian Coast Guard Kitsilano Search and Rescue base in Vancouver, British Columbia: (a) is one of the busiest in Canada and oversees a marine area considered the most congested in the country; (b) is an essential component of the area’s emergency marine response; (c) is strongly supported by local stakeholders and search and rescue experts who believe that closing the base will significantly increase emergency response times to marine incidents and place lives at risk; and, therefore, should be maintained at its current operational level.