British Columbia

Kitsilano's Coast Guard answers 100 rescue calls in past 3 months

Kitsilano Coast Guard station is set for expansion, becoming the first training centre of its kind in the country in 2017, says Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said 'angst' over the closure was understandable

The new Kisilano Coast Guard Base is getting an expanded role in B.C. waters. (Kamil Karamali/CBC)

The Kitsilano Coast Guard station is set for expansion, becoming the first emergency response training centre of its kind for the country in 2017, says Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

He spoke at the official reopening of the station today in Vancouver promising the new training centre will make Canada's busiest harbour — that sees $187 billion in shipping a year — safer and help prevent and clean up any environmental disasters.

Dignitaries paddle to shore for the official reopening of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station Aug. 8. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

"Today is a very, very good day for the Coast Guard," said Commissioner Jody Thomas.

The government promised to spend $23 million expanding the role of the station in the next five years.

It will offer:

  • An expanded role in emergency environmental response
  • Emergency response training for coastal residents
  • An incident command post, to coordinate fast response to any incident

The station, located near downtown Vancouver, was closed by the federal Conservatives in early 2013.

The Liberals promised to reopen the base after winning the last election, and did so in May 2016.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc lauded First Nation leaders and the rescuers who were first on scene and saved lives when a whale watching boat sank in October 2015 off the coast of Tofino B.C. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

Since then LeBlanc noted it has seen 100 calls for rescue, 13 environmental calls, and proven the need for this integral hub in Vancouver waters.

After bunker fuel leaked from the MV Marathassa into English Bay and critics called the response "embarrassing," the government also promised to upgrade the base's pollution response capacity.

"Today is a very,very good day for the Coast Guard," said Commissioner Jody Thomas. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

"I want to thank Minister LeBlanc and the federal government for honouring their commitment to reopen the Kitsilano CoastGuard base ... the connection to our coastal waters is part of the fabric of who we are as British Columbians," said Premier Christy Clark in a press release.

Andrew Wilkinson, the minister for Advanced Education, spoke on the premier's behalf and encouraged his federal counterparts to come back next time, dressed "westcoast casual," noting their crisp uniforms.

Kitsilano Coast Guard reopens after an unsure future to loud applause. (Kamil Karamali/CBC)

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