British Columbia

100 protest Kitsilano coast guard station closure

About 100 people gathered Saturday to protest the planned closure of the Kitsilano coast guard station.
B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix is seen flanked by protesters on Saturday. (CBC)

About 100 people gathered Saturday to protest the planned closure of the Kitsilano coast guard station.

The federal government announced the closure in May, saying emergency calls can be covered by the coast guard station at Vancouver International Airport.

"We've gotta speak with a loud voice, so let's keep doing it, let's get it done," said B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix.

"Let's save this station and let's ensure people here in Vancouver and across British Columbia are safe."

Dix is calling on British Columbians to rally together to pressure the federal government to reverse the closure.

"I think we have to keep the pressure on," he said.

"It's a pretty straightforward decision. It's a small, in relative terms, a small amount of money for the federal government and we think there are other ways for them to find this money in Ottawa without cutting essential services that effect safety of people in B.C."

B.C. Green Party leader Jane Sterk, who is also a recreational sailor, said the coast guard has come to her aid on the water before.

"And we knew that there were people there to support those of us who got into trouble and that they were not only there on the vessels, they were there in the coast guard station," she said. "They had the sailors' back, they had the water users' back."

Local fisherman Mark Shearer says the Kitsilano base's proximity to Vancouver-area waters makes all the difference when it comes to helping those who are in trouble.

"I see people who can't paddle, it's not just power boats that get into trouble," he said.

"I've seen them wash up on shore and they don't know how to get in and around the buoys because it's very shallow right here ... I just can't imagine without having this Coast Guard [base] here, I think it's terrible."

The Kitsilano coast guard station, which responds to about 300 calls each year, is slated to close early next year.

With files from The Canadian Press