VANCOUVER, Sept. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - A group of protesters began a 24-hour
sit-in protest at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station at 5 p.m. Friday
after the federal government ignored a report saying lives would be
lost if the station is closed as planned.
The protestors arrived by boat at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station dock
and will peacefully remain there for 24 hours to draw public attention
to the enormous danger closing the Station would have, leaving all
rescues in Vancouver harbour to the Sea Island Station in Richmond, 17
nautical miles and 35 minutes away.
The report written in July by Maritime Coordinators of the Joint Rescue
Coordination Center in Victoria states that 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 are a group of concerned 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 Centers up and down the coast will cost lives," said B.C.
Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair. "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 protesters will not interfere in any way with search and rescue
operations and will leave the building at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
"It's sad that we have to take protest actions like this to get the
federal government to listen to the Vancouver public - who absolutely
do not want this Coast Guard Station closed," says Dave Clark, Regional
Vice-President of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, who
will be protesting inside the building. "My members who provide
professional search and rescue services at this Station are simply sick
at the thought of it closing - but it's up to the rest of us to get
that message across."
Clark said the group will only make their point by protesting in the
living quarters and mess area of the facility and will not enter the
The confidential report leaked last week clearly shows that lives in
Vancouver harbour will be put in danger should the station close.
This concerns a wide group of people including, politicians from all
levels of government, retired members of the coast guard, recreational
boaters, and members of the fishing and commercial shipping industry.
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 planned closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station comes at the
same time as other cuts to front-line search and rescue and other
services urgently needed by the public, says Bob Jackson, Regional
Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, who
is also taking part in the protest.
"We will all be affected if the federal government persists with its
plan to close the Station," Jackson concluded. "I'm here to make sure
that the government gets the message: closing the Station is a
short-sighted, dangerous decision that must be reversed immediately."
Background on the web
JRCC report and memos regarding closure of Kits station - http://bit.ly/PBjHdo
Follow the Public Service Alliance of Canada, BC Region and the BC
Federation of Labour on Facebook & twitter for updates as the protest
Twitter @psacbc - http://bit.ly/UQsFEh
Twitter @bcfed - http://bit.ly/Q6QsfC
PSAC BC on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/HazFm6
BC Federation of Labour on Facebook - http://on.fb.me/QnjIPL
SOURCE: Public Service Alliance of Canada
For further information:
Patrick Bragg, PSAC Communications, cell: 778 889 3486
Bill Tieleman, cell: 778-896-0964