North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has been working with local stakeholders to hold Environment Canada accountable for weather reporting stations.
For about a year, Environment Canada’s Fanny Island weather station hasn’t reported and earlier this summer, the Sentry Shoal weather station also went offline, according to Blaney’s office. Fanny Island is the only sea-level weather station between Comox and Powell River waters all the way to Port Hardy. Sentry Shoal is the main weather station where the Strait opens up, and provides the most accurate marine weather for the Comox, Campbell River and Powell River areas.
Anyone who uses the waters in our area knows the weather can turn very quickly. This is a huge hazard for people who work, play or travel in the area to be unaware of changing weather conditions. Every boat from dinghy to cruise ship uses that information to travel safely. Not only that, but Environment Canada relies on these readings to more accurately measure trends, and forecast the weather along the entire coast and into the interior.
As Environment Canada does not have any vessels of its own to repair these buoys, staff must rely on the Coast Guard to take them out to do the work. Local residents have inquired about the status of these repairs and have been told they are “not yet scheduled.”
“I have had dozens of constituents contact my office, concerned for their own safety and that of other mariners,” Blaney said in a news release. “It is totally irresponsible of this government to ignore these issues. These ministries need to move on this and make these repairs. Until they do, they are leaving our people at risk. Will it take having to respond to a maritime emergency for action?”
Blaney contacted the ministers responsible for Environment Canada, the Coast Guard, and Transport Canada on July 25 and has yet to receive a response from any of them.
“This is an accident waiting to happen, we need someone to get out there and fix these weather stations. Marine safety for people living in rural communities does not seem to matter to this government.”
In the meantime, Blaney encourages everyone on the water to continue sharing weather information with one another and to stay safe.