Vancouver's Kitsilano coast guard base to reopen 'as soon as possible'

The Liberal government has made good on a campaign promise by officially announcing the reopening of the Kitsilano coast guard station in Vancouver.

Announcement reverses unpopular 2013 decision to close busy base near downtown Vancouver

The Kitsilano coast guard station in Vancouver was closed by the Conservative government in 2013 amid loud opposition from local politicians and citizens. The new federal government says the base will reopen soon. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Kitsilano coast guard station in Vancouver is scheduled to reopen "as soon as possible," according to Fisheries and Coast Guard Minister Hunter Tootoo.

Tootoo made the announcement outside the closed station on the shores of English Bay in Vancouver, following through on a Liberal campaign promise.

"I am happy to report that preliminary work to restore this site will begin shortly," said Tootoo. "It's about enhancing our ability to respond to marine emergencies."

The Kitsilano station was closed by the Conservative government in 2013 amid loud opposition from local politicians and citizens.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called today's announcement great news.

"There was massive local outcry about the closure, given that we saw this base responding to over 300 calls each year," he said. 

"It was a mistake that it was closed at all," said B.C. Premier Christy Clark. "So many people use this harbour, not just commercial shipping, so many citizens."

Robertson said the Kitsilano closure "made things worse" this past summer when close to 3,000 litres of bunker fuel leaked from the MV Marathassa into English Bay, soiling local beaches and sparking a two-week cleanup.

The oil spill happened a kilometre away from the closed Kitsilano station. Coast guard response from the nearest open base in Richmond was criticized as slow.

Critics also believed the Kitsilano closure put mariners in busy English Bay and Burrard Inlet at increased risk because of the longer emergency response time.

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