VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) -The Canadian Coast Guard says a new in-shore rescue boat in Vancouver and more reliance on the auxiliary coast guard will help keep our waters safe now that the Kitsilano station will close next spring.
Jody Thomas, the Deputy Commissioner of Operations with the Coast Guard, says they plan to have the new in-shore rescue boat running before the Kits station closes down.
“The Coast Guard has determined that an in-shore rescue boat in the Vancouver, strengthened partnerships with the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, local emergency responders and the added support from the Sea Island hovercraft are the best mix of resources to provide search and rescue services both effectively and efficiently.”

Thomas says the volunteer Auxiliary Coast Guard stations in Crescent Beach, Indian Arm, Howe Sound, Richmond and Delta will help too.

“Their reaction time is 19 minutes.  They’re underway within 30 minutes 90 per cent of the time and we’re very confident after we discuss what our needs are and what they can they provide, that we will able to ensure the level of service is maintained in Vancouver harbour.”

However, Thomas admits the Coast Guard only spoke to the Department of National Defence, not the province or the City of Vancouver, before deciding to close the Kits station, despite some federal claims of “broad consultation.”
“We spoke to federal partners, yes,” she says, noting the closure will save the Coast Guard about $900,000 a year.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has said he was not told about the closure before it was announced and both city council and the Vancouver Park Board are urging people to speak out on social media against the closure.

Thomas contends a “significant amount of misinformation” has been circulating about the Kits base.
“On average, to be clear, the Kitsilano station responds to 200 maritime search and rescue calls a year,” she says, even though the union representing the station’s workers claim they carry out 300 rescues a year.

“Yes, there were nine calls over the [Victoria Day] long weekend but they could have been handled by other resources available in the Vancouver area,” Thomas says.  “None were distress calls. There were no lives actually at stake.”

The Coast Guard’s union claims 55 lives have been saved by the Kitsilano team this year alone.