Yesterday, the federal government announced plans to increase environmental response and rescue capabilities in Burrard Inlet, the Vancouver harbour.
The plans include additional reservists stationed at HMCS Discovery, a facility in Coal Harbour operated by the Royal Canadian Navy, as well as increased recruitment initiatives, with the aim of employing and training more personnel in search and rescue.
Two contracts totaling $89.2 million were announced in early July for 12 new search and rescue lifeboats. A second contract, totaling $7.6 million, would add 27 new inshore rescue boats for stationing across the country to support search and rescue operations for the Coast Guard.
“These measures will help make Vancouver’s waterways even safer and improve the Coast Guard’s response capability for pollution incidents,” said The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence.
“I know the Royal Canadian Navy looks forward to increased cooperation with the Canadian Coast Guard on the West Coast.”
The move serves to alleviate concerns following a series of drastic cuts to Canadian Coast Guard capabilities across B.C., including the closing of the Kitsalano Coast Guard Station last year.
It also comes after the public outcry following the Kitsilano Coast Guard base closure in 2013 and the bunker fuel oil spill incident at English Bay in April 2015. Without the Coast Guard crews in Kitsilano, the nearest Coast Guard crews from Richmond responded to the spill six hours after the spill occurred.
“The Canadian Coast Guard’s first priority is the safety of mariners and the protection of the marine environment,” said The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. “Through this collaborative effort in the Vancouver area, we are demonstrating our government’s commitment to strengthening the Coast Guard’s pollution response and inshore rescue capability.”