PORT MCNEILL—A program meant to save lives in Port McNeill was such a success, Coast Guard Auxiliary organizers are looking to expand the project to other seaside communities.
“We started the program late this year, but it was highly regarded by the public,” said Aaron Frost, Unit 50 station leader of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.
The project, dubbed “Kids Don’t Float” fired up in July and supplied 15 loaner lifejackets at no charge to kids for use in and around the water.
While organizers aren’t sure how many times the life jackets were used, they know they were worn plenty of times, said Frost.
“We asked that people sign them out when they use them, but not everybody did,” he said.
“They were returning them, of course, they just weren’t doing the paperwork.”
Not one jacket was stolen or vandalized.
“In fact at the end of the year we actually came out ahead with four jackets donated from anonymous people who just hung them on the hanger and to those people we would like to say thank you,” said Frost.
“As well, we received a call from the Port McNeill Harbour and a boater from another community will be donating six more jackets to our program.”
The program recently shut down for the winter because there is no place to store the jackets in a place safe from the blustery elements that turn the flotation devices moldy.
“Hopefully we can get something better built and have the jackets available all year,” said Frost, who thanked Fay Rienks from Fay’s upholstery for her help with a cover for the jackets to protect them from our moist summers.
“Fay is in the process of designing a proper cover for us at no charge,” he said.
Based on the success of the Port McNeill program, there are plans in the works to start the program in other communities.
“The two big ones I want to hit are Port Hardy and Telegraph Cove because they would get the most use,” said Frost.
“We’re hoping to eventually get the program everywhere, including smaller places like Alert Bay and Sointula.”