It unofficially opened back in May and since then has responded to more than 140 marine incidents. The Kitsilano Coast Guard Base was officially reopened this past Monday with all the fanfare and ceremony one might expect in Canada’s largest coastal community.
Despite being the busiest coast guard base in Canada for most of it’s 50 year history, the base was closed in 2013 by the previous Conservative government to save $700K annually. Vancouver’s coastal community, including many users of the Jericho Sailing Centre, strenuously objected to the closure sending letters, petitions and emails to the Coast Guard in Ottawa, local Conservative MPs and even 8,000 signed form letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, only to be summarily dismissed.
Justin Trudeau visited the Jericho Sailing Centre in June 2015 and repeated his campaign promise to re-open the base if his party formed the next government. Having learned to sail out of Jericho as a teen, he was familiar with Vancouver’s outer harbour and well aware of the importance of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base. The former Jericho sailor is now the Prime Minister of Canada and honoured his campaign promise.
The reopened base will provide expanded capability for emergency response to environmental issues. After the April 2015 Marathassa spill, Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas told Canadians that the previous Kits Base had NO environmental response capability, when in fact, it did. Moving forward, marine environmental emergency response will be enhanced beyond its previous capability. It will also include an emergency response training facility for coastal communities.
Many current and past Canadian Coast Guard members attended the ceremony and all were happy to leave the closure in their wake.