VANCOUVER, June 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Surfers and swimmers at the popular
Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park are at risk after federal cuts
this month removed four lifeguards who have been in place each summer
for nearly 40 years, says their union.
The concerns of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union
representing workers at Parks Canada, are echoed by Tofino's mayor and
the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
And other cuts to the Coast Guard in the Tofino-Ucluelet area could put
recreational boaters and commercial fishing fleets at risk, says PSAC.
"Discontinuing the Surf Guard program at Long Beach puts surfers in
danger and will discourage visits to the park," says Bob Jackson, PSAC
Regional Executive Vice-President, "The four Surf Guards employed by
Parks Canada perform an indispensable service: on average they perform
8 water rescues and make 800 contacts with people on the beach per
season. What will happen when they're not there and a surfer gets into
Along with local business groups and politicians, PSAC is calling for
the federal government to reverse its plans to cut the Surf Guard
program at Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim National Park and close the
Tofino Coast Guard Marine Communications & Traffic Services centre,
Surf Guards at the park watch for surfers in trouble, usually novices
unaccustomed to the harsh Pacific conditions, and work to educate
surfers and head off problems before they reach the water, Jackson said
after a visit to Tofino this past weekend.
Tofino Mayor Perry Schmunk is also worried about the safety of surfers
at Long Beach, as well as for the safety of mariners on the west coast
of Vancouver Island as federal government cuts at Parks Canada and the
Coast Guard unfold.
"I'm concerned what impact it has on the safety of people who use the
park," Schmunk told Global TV Monday.
Schmunk traveled to Victoria with Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving earlier
this month to meet Provincial Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom,
Education Minister George Abbott and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mary
Polak - where they told the ministers they want Premier Christy Clark
to speak out against removing surf guards from Long Beach.
"The Government has also announced plans to close the Coast Guard Marine
Communications & Traffic Services centre," continues Jackson, "These
centres provide services to boaters and shipping vessels that is
similar to air traffic control - monitoring and coordinating marine
traffic up and down the west coast."
"They also assist Search and Rescue in emergency situations, where local
knowledge is vital. With the closure of this station all marine
coordination in the area will be handled by the station in Victoria, on
the other side of Vancouver Island."
The Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce has also passed a resolution
of concern and plans to express their displeasure with these cuts to
public services on Vancouver Island in a letter to Ottawa this week.
"By cutting the Surf Guard program and closing the station the
government continues to show complete disregard for the safety of the
public," concludes Jackson, "We call upon the government to reverse
this decision and look out for the safety of surfers and mariners on
SOURCE Public Service Alliance of Canada
For further information:
Patrick Bragg, PSAC Communications, cell 778 889 3486