MPs fighting for Coast Guard station

Comox station scheduled to close in early 2016

  • Dec. 23, 2015 5:00 a.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

 

 

At the bare minimum, Gord Johns hopes the federal government will put a hold on the impending closure of the Comox Coast Guard station.

The Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP, together with North Island-Powell River NDP MP Rachel Blaney, is also urging government to consider re-opening the Tofino marine communications and traffic services centre in Ucluelet, which was closed in April.

“We would have no marine traffic services control in our riding,” Johns said. “There’s a huge sense of urgency because we’re talking about a timeline of three months from now. The Comox station is a really important station, not just because it’s local knowledge around a very busy area in the Salish Sea, but also it’s the only station that’s not in a tsunami subduction zone. We know we’re going to have an earthquake someday, and we know that mariner safety and marine traffic control is going to play a very important role in any sort of crisis situation. Any given day there’s over 10,000 vessels in the water in the summer on the coast of British Columbia.”

Comox Mayor Paul Ives agrees local knowledge is a “powerful thing,” noting the importance of having a functional station in a pivotal area.

“Given the traffic that’s going up and down here, I think it’s important that we maintain that presence here.”

When the federal Conservatives were in power, the plan for B.C. was to centralize the major coastal stations in Prince Rupert and Victoria. The rationale was efficiency, in terms of software development and better technology. One of the stations — Kitsilano in Vancouver — which the Tories closed in 2013 is scheduled to re-open.

While technology can solve some things, Ives suggests the business case for running from one place is not always beneficial. He has heard, for instance, that the Victoria station is incurring huge overtime costs due to a lack of staff.

“Given the emphasis on trade, we want to make sure we can provide a safe manner of transit for all those boats coming through,” Ives said.

Johns says the role of marine traffic control is to “pluck out that mayday call.

“If we miss a call, that’s a life lost at sea.”

Regarding the October sinking of a whale-watching boat off Tofino when at least five people died, Johns said he has heard rumours the Prince Rupert station could not identify the exact naming point of the location.

“It really comes down to local knowledge.”

He and Blaney both spoke about the issue in the House of Commons, and have discussed the planned closure with Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo. They also compared the economy and vessel traffic in B.C. with marine safety.

“The economy has got ahead and supports for marine safety have been cut.”

In the 1990s when the federal Liberals decreased B.C. Coast Guard stations from 10 to five, Johns said government undertook a public consultation process.

“This time the Conservatives didn’t do that. It was driven on budgets,” he said.

“It’s local knowledge that saves lives. So we urged the minister to focus on local knowledge as the basis for marine safety. Supports for local Coast Guard lifeboat stations, support for marine traffic control, support for equipment and training for coastal communities…We know the minister has difficult decisions to make, but we also know the economy has far outpaced marine safety. They’re inter-connected.

“Eventually you’re going to have an accident on the marine highway from a trade. And coastal British Columbians are going to be pointing the finger at government for not re-investing in marine safety.”

 

Just Posted

Cumberland has agreed to a sponsorship agreement with the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland agrees to sponsorship with Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce

Some on council did express concerns from the past such as amalgamation push

Habitat VIN executive director Pat McKenna, and community engagement manager (Comox Valley) Alli Epp are all geared up for the 2021 Habitat For Humanity Vancouver Island North #BidtoBuild online auction. Photo supplied
Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North online auction opens soon

Get ready to ‘bid to build.’ The 2021 Habitat For Humanity Vancouver… Continue reading

Ronan and his son, eight-year-old Erwan Teyssier ran The Cumby together this year. Photo supplied
Cumby Trail Race raises $15,000+ for Cumberland forest protection

The theme of The Cumby 2021 trail race was ‘Celebrating This Land’… Continue reading

From left, Karen Cummins, Suzanne Gravelle and Ted Grainger pose with the winner of this year’s Comox Valley Nature Tree of the Year contest - a western yew, located in the Cumberland Community Forest. Photo by Dianne Grainger.
Comox Valley’s ‘Tree of the Year’ unveiled

By Kerri Scott Special to The Record For the first time in… Continue reading

A Comox Valley shellfish operator pleaded guilty and was fined $10,000 in provincial court in Courtenay earlier this year. Record file photo
Comox Valley shellfish operator fined $10,000 for violations

Fisheries Act charges against three others in same case were stayed

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read