Rescuers still on the water

Coast Guard Auxiliary changes name to Marine Search and Rescue

The next time you get in trouble out on the water off Oceanside, don’t expect to get rescued by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

However, said Regional District of Nanaimo director Bill Veenhof, who serves as the unit leader for Deep Bay’s Unit 59, that doesn’t mean rescue won’t come as quickly as it did in the past.

That’s because the organization he heads is still very much in existence, but will operate under a new name.

“The Coast Guard auxiliary was never part of the Coast Guard,” Veenhof said.

“That was often lost because of the name. We associated with the Coast Guard, we did joint rescues but we were not funded by them and that kind of got muddied. People thought we got federal funding.”

He noted that while the Coast Guard does reimburse the group — now to be known as Unit 59 of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue — for gasoline used during rescue operations, but that’s the extent of it.

Veenhof said the change may help the group with its fundraising, but otherwise he doesn’t see it altering their operation.

“It will not make one iota of difference in terms of the job,’ he said. “The hope at the end of the day is if we are not linked federally, it will be a little more easy to raise funds.”

He noted the group needed to raise about $20,000 last year.

“We raised a lot of that through local donations,” he said. “The pancake breakfast brought in $11,000 and gaming funds have been good to us.”


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