News Local

Kitsilano Coast Guard base finally re-opens

By Rosemary Newton

Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver. 

Kitsilano Coast Guard base in Vancouver. FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS

The Kitsilano Coast Guard base officially re-opened at a ceremony on Monday after being closed by the previous Conservative government — with plans in place for further expansion and enhancement of services.

Fisheries and Coast Guard Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the station will expand its role to provide emergency response to environmental issues, on top of the return of its 24/7 search and rescue operations.

“In the future, Kitsilano will also serve as an incident command post which will help ensure a coordinated, timely response to environmental emergencies that may occur on the water,” LeBlanc said in a statement.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the re-opening is the first phase of plans to improve marine safety on Canada’s West Coast. In the future, the base will also include an emergency response training facility for coastal residents and communities — the first of its kind.

The station re-opened in May of this year, delivering on a campaign promise made by the

Liberal government. The federal Conservatives shut down the station in 2013, a decision that was met with much opposition.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the City of Vancouver welcomes the extra ability to efficiently respond to emergency marine incidents.

“I’m thrilled to see the Kitsilano Coast Guard base officially re-open and resume its position as one of the most important public safety resources for Vancouver and our harbour, one of the busiest in North America,” he said.

The Chamber of Shipping, an organization that represents the marine industry on Canada’s West Coast, said it supports the enhanced base and called it a progressive

step in increasing marine safety and environmental protection.

“[The Canadian Coast Guard] has responded to feedback and is progressing a sophisticated strategy that includes partnerships with Indigenous People, coastal communities, and industry,” said president of the Chamber of Shipping, Robert Lewis-Manning.