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Federal gov't promises improved services for reopened Kitsilano Coast Guard base

(Shannon Brennan, News 1130)

Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Dominic LeBlanc headlines the official re-opening of Kitsilano Coast Guard base.

The base will play a big role in case of an environmental disaster.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Ottawa wants the Kitsilano Coast Guard base to be an example for the rest of Canada when it comes to environmental disaster response.

At its official ribbon-cutting today, the federal government also promised expanded search and rescue services and future plans to work with coastal communities.

As of April of next year, Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Dominic LeBlanc hopes to incorporate a new training site for people living on the water, the first of its kind in Canada.

“[The Coast Guard is] putting the absolute best in terms of resources, training, and equipment so that this facility in Kitsilano can be an example for the rest of the country of what effective, immediate, highly trained environmental and spill response will look like,” he explains. “The training piece will be in place eight or nine months from now and we are building that with other partners.”

He says the base will also serve as an “incident command post” in case of an environmental disaster. “The staff will obviously be highly trained, specifically to deal with spill response, the larger environmental response context. Obviously, the primary responsibility of the Coast Guard is also the search and rescue capacity for people in distress.”

Since the soft opening earlier in May the Coast Guard has already responded to 13 environmental calls.

The former Conservative Government closed the base to save money in 2013, the Liberals promised to reopen the base after winning the last election.