POLITICS

Boat collision off Vancouver rekindles debate over closure of coast guard base

06/13/2012 08:43 EDT | Updated 08/13/2012 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - High winds are getting the blame for a watery drama that played out in the pre-dawn hours off Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver.

Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman Paul Tasker says a 14-metre pleasure craft dragged anchor in strong gusts and large waves Wednesday morning, and was swept against a neighboring 21-metre sailboat that was also moored offshore.

The lone person aboard the smaller boat managed to scramble to safety as it took on water, but it didn't sink and was eventually towed to a nearby marina.

Quick response from the coast guard vessel Mallard, a 10 metre rescue launch from the nearby Kitsilano base, is credited for the speedy and happy end to the emergency.

The federal government plans to close the Kits base, but Tasker says the Mallard was at the scene of the collision within five minutes, rather than the half hour he believes it would have taken for the coast guard to respond from the Sea Island base, near Vancouver International Airport.

Opponents of the Kits base closure warn it could cost lives because the base handles an average of 300 calls per year in the waters around English Bay, making it the busiest in Canada. (CKNW, News1130)