Mayor slams coast guard station solution
Jody Thomas, Coast Guard deputy commissioner of operations, answers questions from the media Wednesday at HMCS Discovery, a Canadian Navy facility in Stanley Park that will house a part-time rescue boat station. (CHRIS CAMPBELL/ 24 HOURS)
Ottawa’s “solution” to the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station closure will put more lives at risk, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said Wednesday.
After it was previously announced the rescue boat station would run part-time, it was confirmed yesterday the new location would operate at the HMCS Discovery Navy facility in Stanley Park.
The service will run from the May long weekend to just after Labour Day. It will provide 24-hour service manned by one Coast Guard member and two students on rotating shifts.
“In a harbour as busy as we are with life-safety challenges, with real problems in the winter when the weather is terrible, that’s not addressed by these solutions,” Robertson said. “Lives will be at risk, all to save a few dollars.”
The net savings from the closure will be $700,000, said Jody Thomas, the Coast Guard deputy commissioner of operations. She said most calls come during warm-weather months.
But Dave Clark of the Coast Guard union said two-thirds of the “most dangerous” rescues are in winter.
“The winter is still a big hole and they haven’t done anything about it.”
When pressed on how the changes would affect response times, Thomas repeatedly cited they would be within “international standards.”
“It will be a change in service, but it won’t be an unreasonable level of service,” she said.
Clark said the international standard is 30 minutes.
“Canada has always been above that,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense that a country like Canada would actually dilute their responsibility.”
Robertson said there has been little consultation with the city, which only learned of the announcement Tuesday night. Coun. Kerry Jang attended, but said he “snuck in” by pretending to be with members of Asian media to find out what was going on.
“It’s been really challenging that the city has not had a healthy back and forth with the federal government on this issue from day one,” Robertson said.
A protest is set for Jan. 19 at the Jericho Sailing Centre at 11 a.m.