Emergency vigil at Kits Coast Guard station

Despite heavy opposition, the Canadian Coast Guard has closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station for good, Deputy Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas informed the national office of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees today afternoon.

Supporters planned an emergency vigil, which took place below the Burrard Street Bridge, outside the station in Vancouver. The rally is scheduled to go until Tuesday with speakers from BC Federation of Labour and the Jericho Sailing Centre voicing their concerns.

“The federal government is not listening to British Columbians who have overwhelmingly rejected closure of this station – lives will be lost – that is what all the experts have said. But once again the government is ignoring the experts, as we have seen across Canada," said National UCTE President Christine Collins in a release, calling the federal government’s decision "outrageous".

“I don’t want to be in the position of saying ‘we told you so’ when tragedy strikes, but that’s what this decision will mean."

BC Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Irene Lanzinger said in a statement that the federal government's announcement of the closure on BC budget day was further proof that Ottawa has disdain for British Columbia.

“Every BC political party, every nautical group, everyone who understands the dangers in these waters has said do not close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station – and the federal Conservative government and its BC MPs have completely disregarded all the evidence that this is a deadly mistake,” Lanzinger said. “To do this on BC budget day shows that completely lack of respect knows no bounds.”

Bob Jackson, B.C. Regional Executive Vice-President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said in a statement that the timing is "despicable."

“Even after Vancouver City Council did a report stating clearly that most deaths and serious injuries in our harbour occur in the winter months, the Conservative government still closes this Station – it’s offensive and to do it on a day they think will minimize media coverage is even worse,” Jackson said.

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