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Conservative gov't not discussing Kits Coast Guard closure

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Conservative government had no problem making a military funding announcement in Vancouver today, but it still wouldn’t tell News1130 why the Kits Coast Guard Station was so abruptly shut down yesterday.

Reporter Andrea Macpherson tried to get a response from Abbotsford MP Ed Fast after a news conference downtown, opening with this question.

“How appropriate is it to be making a funding announcement the day after the government shuts down the coast guard station without any warning?”

“Well… I’m not here to focus on this issue… that falls within the privy of another minister.” said Ed Fast.

But no one from the federal government was able to give a clear answer as to why this happened without warning.

“Reporters were under the impression that the closure was coming in the Spring,” commented Macpherson.

Fast repeated: “The choice as to when to close down the facility, I think you should direct that to the minister because he would have taken into account many different situations.”

There was only one aspect of the issue he would comment on, and that was the public’s well-being.

“I want to be very clear that our government would never take steps to jeopardize the safety of Canadians.”

Those at an emergency vigil last night claim Vancouver’s port is the busiest in Canada.

Fire chief and mayor says lives are at risk

Vancouver’s Fire Chief John McKearney says this closure has put the safety of our harbour and waterways at risk.

“What is upsetting is that we are not able to register with the federal government the importance of this particular base in any matter. In doing all the due dilligence in this area… we are still not able to change their perspective on this.”

He says the station plays an important role in many ongoing tactical exercises crucial for training.

“There has always been at least a hope that we will find a way that they will understand. The unfortunate part is the citizens wills till require the service that has now been pulled. Who is going to do that work? How is it going to get done?”

He says an assessment suggesting the coast guard is not really needed is just plain wrong.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says he’s shocked and disappointed the station was abruptly closed Tuesday.

Protests began shortly after the federal government warned in its last budget that the station would be closed sometime in the spring.

Robertson says he believes the closure will put lives at risk and says the city will have to figure out some kind of backup plan if something goes wrong on the waterfront.