VANCOUVE, British Columbia – Local government officials of all stripes were crying foul yesterday following what’s been described as an “abrupt” closure of the local Kitsilano coast guard station.
“They wanted to bury [the decision],” Vancouver city Coun. Kerry Jang told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s budget day. It’s disgusting. It was a total surprise to us, in one of the most dangerous times of the year [for boaters]… They’re playing Russian roulette with lives.”
As an indication of just what a surprise it was, the coast guard station held a field exercise with the local police and fire departments on Monday and neither agency had any idea the station would be closed before the end of the week.
The government broke the news of the station’s closure by phone to the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees on Tuesday.
The coast guard station responds to roughly 300 calls a year on the water.
Ironically, it was the joint field exercise on Monday that cemented the call to close the station.
Here’s how the Sun summarized it:
“Gary Sidock, the coast guard’s acting assistant commissioner for the Western region, said he made the decision to shut the Kitsilano station after he was satisfied new plans to safely patrol Vancouver Harbour were in place.
“Sidock said he made the decision after observing a major exercise in the harbour Monday that included participation by the marine branches of the Vancouver police department, Vancouver fire department, and Port Metro Vancouver. He said he recommended the closure ‘because we could do so with no increased risk to the public and the station was closed today.’ ”