Power outage shutdown renews coast guard closure worries

The union that represents the Canadian Coast Guard says a power outage that shut down a monitoring centre in Ucluelet over the weekend is proof B.C. isn't ready for the closure of coast guard stations next year.

Ucluelet monitoring station was down for 7 hours

The union that represents the Canadian Coast Guard says a power outage that shut down a monitoring centre in Ucluelet over the weekend is proof B.C. isn't ready for the closure of coast guard stations next year.

A lightning strike caused a power outage for seven hours at a monitoring centre in Ucluelet on Sunday. Other stations took over monitoring ships in the area, and there were no distress calls.

The federal government is closing the Ucluelet station in March as part of a massive round of layoffs underway at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Victoria and Prince Rupert will be responsible for monitoring the area remotely.

Union spokesperson Allan Hughes believes this will put lives at risk.

"All the equipment is still run through Ucluelet, so if there's a power outage, there are going to be no technicians locally to fix it. So they're concentrating all their eggs in two baskets,” he said.

"Better to have more so there's overlap versus the concentration in two centres.”

Hughes says the station in Prince Rupert has received no transfer of information or training even though they will be taking on new responsibilities, including radar monitoring of ships in the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Hughes says the federal government should be improving services, not eliminating them. 

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