02/21/2013 10:14 EST | Updated 04/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Kits Coast Guard Closure 'Shocks' City Councillor


Just days after forcing the early closure of Vancouver's Kitsilano Coast Guard station, the federal government has announced $6.6m for a Newfoundland and Labrador base.

Meanwhile, Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang has slammed the closure in Kitsilano, labelling it "shocking and amazing".

Speaking to Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One's On the Coast, Jang said Vancouver Police, Fire and even mariners were not aware of the closure until it was underway on Tuesday.

"It was all pre-meditated and done on the sly," he said.

Although the station was slated to close in two months' time, the councillor said the decision to shut the doors early puts boaters at risk.

"This is actually one of the most dangerous times for boaters here on the West Coast, it's cold water and this is when most of the accidents do occur," he said.

Like many Vancouver residents who oppose the closure, Jang is having a hard time making sense of the federal government's decision to close the station.

"We can't figure out what the end game is here," he said.

"Why are they so adamant about closing it? Every expert has said 'Don't do this,' and every Conservative MP has ducked the question."

Jang's criticism of the federal government's decision comes on the heels of concerns voiced by both the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Fire and Rescue earlier this week.

$6.6m investment

The federal Conservative government followed its controversial decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard station early by announcing a new and improved base for the town of Burin in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Burin is located at the southern tip of Newfoundland and has a population of 2,470.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced the new $6.6m base in a press release earlier today.

"The safety of mariners is a top priority of the Canadian Coast Guard," said Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield in the release.

"As part of our ongoing efforts to upgrade and replace Coast Guard resources across Canada, this new facility will provide critical lifesaving search and rescue service for years to come."

The money earmarked for the project will allow for a new wharf and operations building at the 50-year-old facility.

News of the Kits Coast Guard closure came from Fisheries and Oceans Canada on Tuesday, in a notice to mariners that the station would no longer offer search and rescue services.

Closure of the station was initially announced last spring as part of budget cuts and drew widespread criticism.

The station was considered the busiest in Canada, responding to about 350 calls every year.

Search-and-rescue services will now be handled by the coast guard base at Sea Island, in Richmond, which is 17 nautical miles away.

The CBC contacted Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield as well as seven other B.C. Conservative MPs, but all of them declined requests for interviews.

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