55 lives saved so far this year by staff at Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that will be closed by federal cuts – including 9 lives saved during Victoria Day long weekend, Coast Guard union announces in launching campaign to save Station from closure

Union of Canadian Transportation Employees NEWS RELEASE Tuesday May 22, 2012

55 lives saved so far this year by staff at Kitsilano Coast Guard Station that will be closed by federal cuts – including 9 lives saved during Victoria Day long weekend, Coast Guard union announces in launching campaign to save Station from closure

VANCOUVER – 55 lives have been saved so far this year by staff at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, including 9 lives saved this Victoria Day long weekend says the union representing Coast Guard workers.

And the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees is launching a public campaign to save the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station from closure with a new Facebook page titled Save the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base and plans for more actions to convince the federal government to reverse its decision announced to staff last Thursday.

“Our Coast Guard members have already intervened to assist 55 people in distress at sea who urgently needed help in the first five months of this year,” said Dave Clark, UCTE BC Regional Vice-President.  “That includes 9 people who were the focus of rescue efforts just on this last Victoria Day long weekend.”

“If the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station had already been closed, the news today would have almost certainly been about tragic drowning’s at sea,” Clark said, adding that opposition to losing the station is building rapidly.

“The public is simply stunned that the federal government would close Canada’s busiest Search And Rescue Station, in the country’s busiest port,” says Clark.  

“We know the public and especially boaters are totally opposed to this short-sighted decision and we are launching a campaign to keep this Coast Guard station open,” said Clark.

The campaign got a major boost with support today from retired Kitsilano Coast Guard Station Commander Fred Moxey, Vancouver City Councilors Geoff Meggs, Kerry Jang and Tim Stevenson, Vancouver Park Board Chair Constance Barnes and New Westminster-Coquitlam Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly, who have been outspoken in opposing the Station closure, Clark said.

“Coast Guard staff really appreciate the support of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Councilor Meggs, Park Board Chair Barnes, MP Donnelly, former Commander Moxey and the many other people who want this Station kept open,” Clark said.  

“We anticipate a growing number of elected officials and prominent British Columbians to add their voices in opposition to this decision made in Ottawa without consultation or consideration for the value of the rescue services provided here in Vancouver,” Clark said.

The federal government told the 12-member staff at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station on Thursday that it would be closed at the end of this boating season, leaving all rescues to the Sea Island Coast Guard station in Richmond, 17 nautical miles away.  The Station responds to over 350 calls on average each year.

Members of the public who want to support keeping the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station can go to www.Facebook.com and search Save the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base.

The UCTE represents about 1,300 federal workers in British Columbia, including Coast Guard employees.

For more information: Dave Clark at cell 778-322-2611 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964 or 604-844-7827.      

National Website: www.ucte.com

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