Living as we do in a city that grew up on the banks of the Fraser River, our community understands both the wonders and perils of life on the water.
That's why we join the many voices who see the federal government's cuts to the B.C. Coast Guard as misguided at best, disastrous at worst.
Closing Coast Guard communication centres in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino, along with the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, sets a course for slower and stretched services when response time is often the difference between life and death on the open waters.
It means Vancouver's busy harbour will be served by Sea Island Base in Richmond - 17 nautical miles away. And auxiliary volunteers will be called to do what trained and equipped coast guards have done - and done well.
It's part of what is being billed as a national reorganization of Coast Guard services, but smacks more of pennywise, pound-foolish orchestration from Ottawa.
Across Canada, the number of communication centres will be nearly halved, and 700 staff face uncertain futures. These communication centres play a pivotal role in providing emergency help to mariners on B.C. waters.
As of 2015, the province's coastline will now rely upon the dispatches from communication centres in Prince Rupert and Victoria. Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the move, stating that the government has, in fact, bolstered marine safety.
However, more experienced voices have stepped forward to say that the changes will do the exact opposite - and that the lack of consultation makes the cuts more worrisome.
When it comes to safety on the water, there should be no cutting corners. Ottawa needs to listen to local voices and stop dictating from afar.
© Copyright 2013