Marine Organizations continue their opposition to the planned closures of Canadian Coast Guard establishments. The following was released from the Council of BC Yacht Clubs:
The CBCYC has added its voice to the growing chorus of those raising strong objections to the closure of the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard base. The council represents over 50 yacht clubs in British Columbia, with over 10,000 members – powerboaters, sailors, canoeists and kayakers, and represents the largest user segment of the recreational boating community in BC.
“We have deep concerns about the potential impact of this closure on the safety of all boaters on the waters of BC”, says Sheila Boutcher, president of the council. “This closure will affect search and rescue capabilities not only in the waters of Vancouver Harbour and Howe Sound, but throughout the Strait of Georgia.”
The average number of search and rescue responses by the Kitsilano base is over 300 per year. Approximately half of these are with respect to reported persons in the water, medical responses, suicides, fire, and vessels taking on water – in other words, life-threatening situations requiring a rapid response.
“The loss of the cutter from Kitsilano, which we understand will be “mothballed,” leaves only the hovercraft available to cover this whole area. Reportedly an RHIB will be substituted for the cutter. This is not acceptable, given the high volume of boating, commercial and recreational, year round.”
While we applaud, and greatly appreciate, the invaluable work of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, this is an organization completely dependent on volunteers and their own fundraising efforts. Their level of training and response time are well below that of the full-time Coast Guard members who are available 24 hours per day at a moment’s notice to respond to emergencies. They cannot be expected to replace the professional search and rescue personnel of Canadian Coast Guard.
The virtually complete lack of public consultation prior to the announcement of the closure is also of deep concern to the council. It is hope that the Government of Canada will listen to the many voices of concern that have been raised, and rescind this potentially life-threatening decision.