Nfld. & Labrador

More voices against St. John's rescue centre closure

The campaign to convince the federal government to reverse its decision to close the marine rescue centre in St. John's is building steam in communities outside the capital city.

The campaign to convince the federal government to reverse its decision to close the coast guard's maritime rescue centre in St. John's is building steam in communities outside the capital city.

The federal government aims to reduce spending by closing the centre that now co-ordinates search and rescue operations in the waters around Newfoundland and Labrador and providing those services from centre in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador is asking town councils across the province to write Ottawa, denouncing the decision.

Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy said his council is fully behind the protest.

"When you have distress calls, you know a matter of seconds or minutes means the difference between life and death. The current situation is totally ridiculous as far as I'm concerned," Murphy said. "People's lives are on the line. They need that peace of mind and protection."

Old Perlican Mayor Harry Strong says his council was more than happy to do just that.

"We moved the motion to write to the prime minister and copy it to whoever is involved with this, and strongly protest this decision. As far as I'm concerned it's a crime, it's a disaster," said Strong.

The centre, which answers hundreds of calls for help annually, operates out of the coast guard station on the south side of St. John's harbour.

The Department of Fisheries and oceans is defending the decision to close the centre as a cost-cutting measure that will lead to better co-ordination between the coast guard and Canadian Armed Forces.

The centre's role will be moved to the military's Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centres in Halifax, and Trenton, Ont. As many as 12 jobs could be lost with the closure.

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