While the federal cuts to the Canadian Coast Guard stations in Tofino and Comox are clearly ill-conceived and downright dangerous, there is another destructive operation underway.
The Marine Communication Traffic Services (MCTS) are also being cut. They claim no loss of jobs, but we all know funding cuts this drastic will soon make dismissal of staff necessary down the road, if not immediately. And there is certainly no fat to be cut now, let alone in the future.
The government advisors who recommended these cuts, and the ministers who enforce them clearly have no concept of the distances involved in control of vessels of all sizes and types on the B.C. coast. Here in mid-Island, we require Comox Coast Guard radio to relay messages to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria. Victoria VHF radios cannot be heard clearly up here, and our radios cannot be heard even in Nanaimo, let alone further south.
Search and rescue (SAR) operations of all kinds typically use radios with local range, and depend upon stations like Tofino and Comox to pass on messages to and from Victoria.
In many cases, stations like Comox have direct access to tide, current, weather and traffic information which they can instantly convey to the SAR group(s) on the scene. Such local information may not be available at JRCC, even if they could convey it directly.
As a SAR volunteer, I know how important it is to ask for ambulances, helicopter support, etc. via Comox Coast Guard Radio. Out in our boat, we have nothing but spotty cell phone coverage to communicate with other agencies. There is no question in my mind. These cuts will cost lives.
Nelson W. Eddy,
Marine Search and Rescue