Kitsilano S&R proves base’s worth

English Bay rescue once again proves the value of S&R.

Dear editor,

On August 4, the Kitsilano Search and Rescue (S&R) base once again proved its effectiveness at dealing with marine emergencies as Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) specialists were first on the scene after a cruise ship carrying 250 passengers collided with two boats during a fireworks show in Vancouver’s English Bay. I wish to offer my congratulations to the S&R specialists for their quick and effective response. Their longstanding commitment to keeping the people of Vancouver’s harbour safe is cause for celebration and admiration. Unfortunately, the federal government made a decision to close this base in 2013, for minimal cost savings.

The recent incident in English Bay highlights the necessity to keep the base open. Thankfully, the collision did not result in any serious injuries, but Coast Guard responders arrived quickly, ready to respond to any crisis. Kitsilano S&R specialists provide an essential emergency response service in some of the nation’s busiest waterways. If the government decides to go ahead with the base closure, the nearest response team will be stationed 17 nautical miles away in Richmond—which means longer response times, especially in rough weather, and greater chance of disaster.

At my recent community meeting on the issue of the closure, citizens as well as marine safety professionals emphasized the importance of the base to Vancouver’s safety. To this end, I introduced a motion in the House of Commons, motion M-396, calling on the government to recognize the importance of the Kitsilano CCG base to the area’s emergency preparedness, and to retain its current operational level.

This is not a partisan issue—it is about public safety. The government must not wait for disaster to strike to acknowledge the need for skilled S&R responders at the Kitsilano base. They should move immediately to reverse their decision, which otherwise will result in preventable deaths merely to save a few dollars.

Joyce Murray, MP

Liberal Party of Canada Critic for Small Business and Tourism