Kits Coast Guard Station will be reopened, says Fisheries Minister

UPDATE: Dec. 16 – It’s official, the Kits Coast Guard Station will be reopened.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Hunter Tootoo, made the announcement at a press conference outside the base.

A timeline has not been given, but the base will be opened “as soon as possible.”

“The Prime Minister made the commitment to re-open the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Base and we are delivering on that commitment,” said Tootoo. “I have directed my officials to begin restoration work as soon as possible. The Canadian Coast Guard plays a crucial role in saving lives and protecting our waters and soon Kitsilano will be able to support this important mandate.”

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said it was a mistake the base was closed at all.

The details of the reopening are still being worked out, but it will be a 24/7 operation “to meet the demands in the area,” said Tootoo.

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The building has been closed for three years and Tootoo said there are some mould issues to be worked out before it can reopen.

WATCH: The Kits Coast Guard press conference with Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo 

Story from Nov. 13:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has written a letter telling the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard that he is to re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base.

In a letter to Minister Hunter Tootoo, Trudeau lists the re-opening of the base as one of Tootoo’s top priorities, along with the re-opening of the Maritime Rescue Sub-centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Kits Coast Guard base was closed in February, 2013, and the decision to re-open it was one of the promises Trudeau made to voters in B.C. before the election.

In the letter, Trudeau writes:

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As Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, your overarching goal will be to protect our three oceans, coasts, waterways and fisheries and ensure that they remain healthy for future generations. Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine and coastal areas that are ecologically diverse and economically significant. Canada has a responsibility to the world to steward our resources with care.

Among other priorities Tootoo must focus on are:

  • Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to increase the proportion of Canada’s marine and coastal areas that are protected – to five percent by 2017, and ten percent by 2020 – supported by new investments in community consultation and science.
  • Restore annual federal funding for freshwater research, and make new investments in Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area.
  • Restore funding to support federal ocean science and monitoring programs, to protect the health of fish stocks, to monitor contaminants and pollution in the oceans, and to support responsible and sustainable aquaculture industries on Canada’s coasts.
  • Use scientific evidence and the precautionary principle, and take into account climate change, when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.
  • Work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other stakeholders to better co-manage our three oceans.

In a statement from the City of Vancouver, the mayor’s office says it is “great news”:

The Mayor will likely have a statement soon as he is in transit back from the Vancouver China 2015 business mission, but the Mayor raised this commitment as one of Vancouver’s top priorities in his conversation with the Prime Minister two weeks ago

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Councillor Kerry Jang also applauded the news.

“We were ecstatic here at City Hall,” he said.

“I’m sure captain George Vancouver, our statue in front of City Hall, is very happy knowing Vancouver’s harbour and surrounding waters are safe once again.”

WATCH: Kerry Jang comments on the decision to reopen the base

Marine safety expert Joe Spears similarly applauded the decision.

“The fog has lifted,” he said.

“Kits base is critically important to the Port of Vancouver…having the capability from a federal presence to deal with things is critically important.”

WATCH: Spears comments on what the re-opening of the Kits Coast Guard station means to the community

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