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Kitsilano search-and-rescue station a victim of Coast Guard budget cuts

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Colin Parkinson

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This is not going to end well. This will be I think the 3rd attempt at shutting the base down, once was in the 90's and another before my time. They also wanted to move this base to a "Lifeboat station Status" (8hrs on, 16 hrs standby, crew has to live within 15minutes of the base)

I am not sure if this is a blatant attempt to embarrass the government into giving CCG more money or the big ship guys sticking it to the SAR stations to save the fleet. They also plan to close the Vancouver regional office and amalgamate 3 of the MCTS centres into the remaining 2.

Couple of fact checks, the new hovercraft will replace an older one so no change there. Kits cover Howe sound, Vancouver harbour, part of sunshine coast and Indian Arm. Sea island covers the mudflats, YVR, across the strait, Fraser River and down to the border. Each covers the other when operating at the far end of their area.

The existing boats at kits if moved to Sea Island,  would be forced to use the North Arm at least 50% of the time due to shallow water in the middle Arm where Sea Island is located. The Osprey puts out a serious wake and will damage marina's going up the middle arm to reach the North Arm, to reach Vancouver harbour and may be limited by serious wave issues there (westerly wind on a Freshet, very nasty) and will suffer prop strikes on logs in the river.

They would have to maintain 2 full crews there to keep a portion of the same coverage. which negates manpower savings. Kits base has been in use since WWII and is a contaminated site, the current building is fairly new and has lot's of life in it.

Thee is a strong core of retired CCG types that will contest the CCG press releases and will be able to react faster and keep reporters informed better than the region can keep the Minister informed. In fact this same region did a dismal job of being truthful with information to the Minister around the dive team issue and caused the  DFO Minister to be caught out by a well informed reporter. The Minister was not pleased! I also suspect this will not go down well with many west coast CPC supporters which will cause the political masters heartburn.



Kitsilano search-and-rescue station a victim of Coast Guard budget cuts

VANCOUVER - The Kitsilano Coast Guard search and rescue station is being shut down by the federal government due to budget cuts, a move that will increase response times to emergency calls.

The Kitsilano station will be consolidated with the Sea Island hovercraft base, located 17 nautical miles from its current location in Vanier Park.

The announcement raised concern from union officials as well as some boaters who say the cuts could jeopardize safety.

“Kitsilano’s search and rescue is the busiest search and rescue base in Canada,” said Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) national president Christine Collins. “They respond to over 300 search and rescue calls in a year.”

“So far this year they’ve already responded to 70 calls and we’re just getting into the busiest season.”

Moving the SAR station will increase response time to the Greater Vancouver area by at least 30 minutes, Collins said.

“In a life-or-death situation, by the time the other group [responds], there will be death,” she said.

However, the federal government contends the area will be well-served by Sea Island.

“The Sea Island Base and the Kitsilano base are located only 17 nautical miles apart ­— their service areas overlap entirely,” Erin Filliter, spokeswoman for Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, said in a prepared statement.

“No other Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue resources are in such close proximity. Levels of service will remain the same and consistent with other major ports.”

A new hovercraft set to be delivered next year means the Sea Island base will “more than adequately meet the search and rescue needs for the area,” Filliter said.

Some Vancouver boaters are not so sure.

“As a recreational boater and a member of the recreational boater advisory committee ... I’m very sad to see that service cut,” said Vancouver police marine unit Sgt. Norm Webster.

“I would say anytime there’s a loss of resource for boating safety, there’s always going to be a concern. We don’t want to lose anything for the recreational boater or the commercial boater out there, because when situations happen, time is of the essence,” said B.C. Marine Trades Association president Don Prittie.

It can take as little as 30 minutes to die in water that’s 4.5 C. English Bay’s waters can reach lows of 3 C.

More than 1,000 employees at the Canadian Coast Guard and the fisheries department, including the nine who work at the Kitsilano base, received notice Thursday that their jobs could vanish. The Coast Guard is also consolidating its bases in Victoria and Prince Rupert and closing marine communications centres in Tofino and Comox.

Ministry spokeswoman Filliter stressed that only 400 positions out of an 11,000-strong workforce are being eliminated in the so-called “workforce adjustment,” announced in the March budget, and that some will be eliminated through attrition.

The 1,072 workers who received notices are simply being told they “may” be declared surplus and could be reassigned to other government posts.

The government didn’t say how many job losses will be in B.C., but the Public Service Alliance of Canada union said 86 of the 598 members that received notices are based on the West Coast.

The Professional Institute for the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said 18 of the 130 members from its union that received notices Thursday are in B.C.

“This is the Coast Guard’s way of doing their share of the cuts for the budget and to prove to the clients on the 50th year anniversary that they’ll be a lean Coast Guard for the next 50 years,” said UCTE’s Collins. She added that closing the Kitsilano base because of a budget cut is “shocking,” and goes against the Coast Guard’s very mandate of saving lives.

The Marine Trandes Association’s Prittie, however, views the change differently.

“As we approach the first long weekend and first real big boating weekend of the season, I think this just makes it all the more important that boaters are well prepared for going out on the water, their vessels are well maintained and seaworthy, that they have the proper life-saving equipment, and that they have the right kind of training to take the boats out,” he said. “It’s a good reminder to be prepared and to not get into situations where we need those resources like Kits base or Sea Island.

knursall@vancouversun.com

poneil@postmedia.com



Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Kitsilano+search+rescue+station+victim+Coast+Guard+budget+cuts/6639492/story.html#ixzz1vFHb4PXg
 

Brad Sallows

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>crew has to live within 15minutes of the base

In that highly affordable real estate market...
 

Colin Parkinson

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Exactly and at around $40-50,000 a year salary.

A bunch of us old CCG types will be making a push to keep it open. the old OIC will be on CKNW today. Just doing up a letter to my MP and the PMO.
 

Colin Parkinson

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My feeling is that this issue cost the CPC the 2 seats in the North Shore/Sunshine Coast riding.

Now this does not mean it's a done deal, but certainly a big step. The building was showing it's age already and a couple of years empty and I believe some squatters as well, likely the building itself will need to be torn down and then a new one built. The dock is in good shape. Also CCG divested all of the 41' cutters I believe, so not sure what they will put there other than the 733 RHIB's. The 41' were great boats.

https://www.gcsurplus.ca/mn-eng.cfm?snc=wfsav&sc=enc-bid&scn=158341&lcn=303594&lct=L&srchtype=&so=ASC&sf=desc&lci=&str=26&ltnf=1

 
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