Kitsilano Coast Guard closure will create safety 'gaps'
A new report says the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station will create "significant gaps" for the safety of residents and visitors in Vancouver Harbour and English Bay.
The report by Vancouver deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston declares marine search and rescue is exclusively a federal responsibility and notes the Vancouver police marine unit already relies on the Coast Guard for various types of calls because it is not trained in marine search and rescue and has no paramedic capability.
In response, Mayor Gregor Robertson asked the chiefs of the city's police and fire department to write to the federal government to say it's not their job to cover for the Coast Guard once the base is closed down.
The federal government has proposed to replace it with a new summertime inshore rescue service staffed by students in rigid-inflatable rescue boats, and service from the Richmond Sea Island hovercraft base.
But the report notes that about two-thirds of the life-at-risk calls typically occur in the winter months when the student service will not be operating.
The report also concludes the hovercraft service operating out of the Coast Guard's Sea Island base in Richmond will not able to properly serve the busy Vancouver area because response times will be longer, and the hovercraft will not be ideal in all weather conditions.
The federal decision to close the busy Kitsilano base, which responds to an average of 292 calls a year, nearly 50 more than the Sea Island base responds to each year, by the spring of 2013 has drawn opposition since it was announced in May.
Over the weekend, protesters occupied the base in order to voice their concerns about the closure.