Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans speaks at a press conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday June 26, 2012, Minister Ashfield to Announce New Funding for Marine Search and Rescue in Vancouver. He will also respond to questions relating to the closure of Canadian Coast Guard Station Kitsilano.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
A group of protesters are staging a sit-in at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in B.C. to protest the federal government's decision to close the base.
According to a July report written by Maritime Coordinators of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria, the closure "will endanger the lives of mariners" and "may lead to increased casualties since the numbers of incidents is great in this area" because of the "additional time to respond" to emergencies on the water.
The protestors, who arrived at the station Friday evening and will leave Saturday evening, include members of Vancouver harbour's fishing, tug boat and pleasure boat community as well as union leaders who represent workers at the station.
"Closing this base and three Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Centres up and down the coast will cost lives," B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said in a statement. "People live, work and play in this harbour and we are here to stand up for the emergency services that help to keep them safe."
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) says the confidential report leaked last week "clearly shows that lives in Vancouver harbour will be put in danger should the station close."
Politicians from all levels of government, retired members of the coast guard, recreational boaters, and members of the fishing and commercial shipping industry have all voiced their concern at the closing.
Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson called the report "explosive" and told media the report "clearly states a high risk of increased fatalities due to the Kits Coast Guard base closure. And that's a massive concern for all of us in Vancouver."
The base is scheduled to close next spring.