Marine safety compromised by coast guard cuts

When Coast Guard personnel goes, so too does the local knowledge with them. When that goes, we fear safety is headed in the same direction.

Coast are still reeling at the sweeping cuts to coast guard services that were announced last week.

Here on the west coast, marine communication centres in Ucluelet and Comox will close and their services will transfer to either Victoria or Prince Rupert. While personnel at those stations will have the opportunity to move their jobs, mariners will lose a valuable resource.

For when the personnel goes, so too does the local knowledge of the area. And when the local knowledge goes, we fear safety is headed in the same direction.

There is much unknown about how two units on opposite ends of the coast will be able to cover so much territory.

People in Newfoundland and Labrador have already seen the devastating effect that stretching search and rescue resources has on remote communities, with the death of a teenager lost on the ice. With hundreds of kilometres of rugged west coast shoreline hugging the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, we cannot afford a repeat on this side of the country.

Yet, critics of the cuts say this is exactly where we are headed.

We can only hope the Port Alberni Coast Guard Auxiliary unit is correct in its assumption that the changes will not affect their coverage in the Alberni Inlet.

We can also hope that response times for coast guard and search and rescue services will not be delayed because of these changes.

We understand the need for efficiency. But not when it compromises safety.

— Alberni Valley News