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New Coast Guard boat won't have same coverage capability

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Vancouver waterfront is now the responsibility of a newly-activated zodiac stationed on Deadman’s Island in Coal Harbour.

The boat will be manned by a crew of three full-time staff on rotation during the busy boating season and in theory, should be able to respond to emergencies in English Bay and Howe Sound in the 30-minute neighbourhood.

But Bill Tieleman, who speaks for the Coast Guard union says that response time falls under a best case scenario and that the craft won’t offer nearly the same level of emergency response service as the now-closed Kitsilano Coast Guard Station.

“Obviously the equipment isn’t there, the station isn’t there. All of the things we had before, 24-7, 365 days a year are not happening this time.”

“This is not the kind of boat where you can transport ambulance paramedics”

Bad weather and sea conditions could play a major roll along with capacity, and that’s on top of the fact it likely won’t be manned full-time for at least half the year. Rough seas could leave it grounded while paramedics wouldn’t be able to transport patients.

That could leave Canada’s busiest harbour with a false sense of security, says Tieleman.

“(Around) 350 calls a year went to the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and we know that the most dangerous times of course are the winter and spring when there is no service. This is basically a fair-weather service,” says Tieleman.

Vancouver had relied on the Sea Island Coast Guard Base since the closure of the Kitsilano outpost.