VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Effective immediately, search and rescue services from the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station have been discontinued by the Conservative Government.

An emergency vigil started at 5 p.m. outside the station.

Ottawa had not given a firm date on its closure.

Deputy Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas informed the national office of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees by telephone.

National UCTE President Christine Collins says the federal government’s decision is unbelievable. “To suddenly close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that serves Canada’s busiest port in the middle of the winter with no notice is simply outrageous,” Collins says.

Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang is steaming mad. “All the measures that the conservatives have put into place, we feel from a professional perspective, are not adequate and will put lives at risk.”

He says the federal government has shown a blatant disregard for the lives of mariners.

Mike Cotter, General manager of the Jericho Sailing Centre says it’s sad and there’s been continued opposition that the feds aren’t listening to.

“Members of the Vancouver marine safety network, the City of Vancouver, the province, we’ve all been very clear  this is going to cost lives on the water unnecessarily, sadly it’s only a matter of time.”

Cotter thinks the decision will get reversed.

The Tories are still insisting the Vancouver area will be served with a full suite of search and rescue services.

BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Irene Lanzinger, who will speak at the vigil, says for the federal government to announce the closure on BC budget day is further proof that Ottawa has disdain for British Columbia.

“Every BC political party, every nautical group, everyone who understands the dangers in these waters has said do not close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station – and the federal Conservative government and its BC MPs have completely disregarded all the evidence that this is a deadly mistake,” Lanzinger said.