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Christy Clark intent on convincing Ottawa to reconsider closing Kitsilano rescue station

B.C. Premier Christy Clark listens to a question from a reporter as she holds her first news conference of the year in Vancouver on Jan. 16, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

A day ahead of a major rally against Ottawa's plans to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has renewed her commitment to convince Ottawa not to follow through on the "disappointing" decision.

In a YouTube video posted Friday, Ms. Clark said her B.C. Liberal government remains intent on reversing the plan, which she described as misguided cost cutting.

Ms. Clark is also the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey in which the base, set for closure this spring, is located.

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"The federal decision to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard base was disappointing to say the least," Ms. Clark said in the 82-second video, which marks her most recent use of YouTube as a means of commentary on public-policy issues.

"Our swimmers, boaters and our ports expect the federal government to keep B.C. harbours safe. That's why we're asking them to reconsider the decision to close the base," she said.

On Saturday, B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix, and B.C. Conservative Party Leader John Cummins are to participate in an all-party gathering to call for the continued operation of the base, which handles about 300 calls a year, but is being eliminated to save about $700,000 per year.

Vancouver-Langara MLA Moira Stillwell, the social-development minister, is also scheduled to attend, said organizer Dave Clark, B.C. regional vice-president for the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, which represents base workers.

Ms. Clark noted her government is planning to balance B.C.'s budget this spring and understands the "importance" of controlling spending and keeping costs down, "but not when lives are put at risk."

The premier was dismissive of a recent announcement by the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to set up a new Inshore rescue boat station to offset the planned closure of the base.

She notes Ottawa's plan will lead to a "dangerous" drop in service for about eight months of the year.

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"For the safety of British Columbians, the federal government must find the funding to keep the Kits Coast guard station open and keep Vancouver families safe. My government is not going to give up this fight."

Mr. Clark said he appreciated Ms. Clark's YouTube intervention. "We're happy she put it out. We agree with her. She said it quite properly. I hope they continue to tell the Conservative government to keep it open."

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More


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