The background on my computer, and the cover photo on my Facebook is a night time shot of the busy Vancouver harbor. If it were taken during the day, a large number of personal, commercial, and defense marine craft would be seen in the picture. However, starting next year, the number of marine craft in the harbor will no longer be there. And why? Its all because the federal government of Canada wants to save a whopping $800,000/year by closing the busiest Canadian Coast Guard base in the country.
As I watch people fight the closure, and attempt to change the federal governments mind, I see one thing that is neglected. While yes, the personal safety of those on the water in Vancouver is the most important factor in wanting to save the base, no one has commented on the economic impact.
Vancouver has the busiest port in the Northwest Pacific. Port Metro Vancouver has employs 129,500 people, contributes 10.5 billion to the GDP, with 22 billion in economic output. The port is responsible for 6.1 billion in wages. Those are extremely serious numbers. All of those can, and potentially will disappear as the Kitsilano Coast Guard base closes.
The federal goverment also recently awarded a $3 billion dollar ship building contract to shipyards in North Vancouver. The same shipyards are under the jurisdiction as the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. So, it would seem largely hypocritical of the government to want to close the base.
Sadly, there is no changing the federal government’s mind. Despite several independent and government sponsored studies on the impact of the closure, the base will still close. The stance the feds have, and continue to take, in regards to Kits is that they remain committed to the safety of all Canadians, and once everything is integrated in to the Sea Island Coast Guard base, all concerns will be alleviated. I’m not sure how this is so, because as has been proven BY THE COAST GUARD, it will take an extra 15 – 30 minutes to respond to calls in Vancouver harbor. So much to the fact that the former base commander of Kits has stated that many lives will be lost. And all because of $800,000/year.
Now, I’ve a theory about how to prevent the closure. It involves Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, and the rest of PM Harper’s cabinet, a large boat with no life jackets in English Bay, a few well drilled holes, and the Sea Island Coast Guard officers being busy with a float plane crash in the south arm of the Fraser River. However, lets be realistic, that’s not going to happen any time soon.
Its tough to face, but our once thriving beach and marine lifestyle in Vancouver is going to be extinct.