Federal government prepared to sacrifice mariners’ lives

Dear editor,

You printed a letter by the Canadian Coast Guard deputy commissioner in which she supposedly “corrected recent inaccuracies.”

Dear editor,

You published a letter recently by Jody Thomas, Deputy Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard in which she supposedly “corrected recent inaccuracies being reported about the changes to its Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres (MCTS).”

Nothing she states appears to correct any inaccuracies previously reported. In fact, there are several discrepancies in her remarks. For example, she states that at present “a significant portion of MCTS Operators’ shifts, as much as 25 per cent, was spent manually recording and maintaining the Continuous Marine Broadcasts of weather and Notices to Shipping information.”

This task is assigned to one of three operational positions. If as she states, the task takes 25 per cent of the operator’s time, then over a 12-hour shift this would amount to three hours, or six hours in a 24-hour period.

As a retired MCTS Supervisor who knows the system, I can assure you and the public that this is not the case. Perhaps in total, one hour by one staff member is spent on this task in a 12-hour shift.

Despite Ms. Thomas’ misgivings about the present Canadian Coast Guard system, this service is lauded by boaters and mariners as being far superior to systems currently in use by the U.S. Coast Guard and Environment Canada.

Ms. Thomas also contradicts herself by stating, “If a centre were to experience an outage, a neighbouring one will be able to pick up the geographical area covered by that centre until service is restored.”

This is definitely the backup procedure at present with five strategically located centres along the B.C. coast (Victoria, Vancouver, Comox, Ucluelet and Prince Rupert).

However, if the planned changes by the Conservative government are implemented and the centres in Vancouver, Comox and Ucluelet are closed, then this becomes a critical situation should either the Victoria or Prince Rupert “super centres” suffer even a short power outage or circuit interruption. The current redundancy built into the SAR system to fill the gap will no longer exist.

Imagine the service levels provided by the one remaining centre if for any reason (earthquake, tsunami, etc.) the other centre is taken out of commission. With the present five-centre configuration, it is likely that at least three centres would be sharing the added workload and service area coverage.

But with only two centres, you can well imagine that services are going to suffer and the safety of mariners will be compromised regardless of “the first priority of the Coast Guard.”

This is already the case, where remote mountain sites are struck out of service and due to budget cuts technicians are no longer on standby to repair these outages, which can often take weeks to be restored; all the while, an area has no VHF coverage monitoring for distress calls.

All of this “downsizing” is being proposed while the government is considering increased oil tanker traffic both in the Vancouver harbour and Kitimat areas.

If modern technology is going to improve whereby MCTS officers can regulate traffic and safeguard the marine community over thousands of kilometres, why stop at downsizing to two centres on the B.C. coast?

Why not remote everything by satellite and run the whole B.C. operations from the Coast Guard headquarters in Ottawa? All for the sake of saving about $2 million of our taxpayer dollars each year to be used for other non-safety issues, like renting pandas from China for $10 million, advertising the War of 1812 or Economic Action plan commercials for $16 million.

Ms. Thomas may well state that “the first priority of Coast Guard is the safety of mariners.” But it is becoming increasingly obvious that the federal government is willing to sacrifice lives and the environment to save a few dollars.

Dave Godfrey,

MCTSO Ret.,

Union Bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Cumberland is hoping for its lab at the Cumberland Health Centre to re-open. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland hopeful for lab re-opening

“People in Cumberland are getting a little bit left behind with the loss of that lab.”

Ramona Johnson at the I-Hos Gallery. Photo by Ali Roddam/Black Press
Community rallying to support I-Hos Gallery manager

Ramona Johnson has recently been diagnosed with cancer for the second time

Brian Chow, a medical first responder for the Comox Valley division of St. John Ambulance for over six years, is one of the volunteers giving time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Comox. Photo supplied
Medical first responders volunteer at Comox vaccine clinic

St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder (MFR) volunteers are providing support and… Continue reading

A West Vancouver developer has applied to the City of Courtenay to construct a 39-unit strata development at 2650 Copperfield Rd. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay council gives second reading to contentious development proposal

At the May 3 meeting, Courtenay council approved second reading for a… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read