The Canadian Coast Guard has enhanced its search and rescue capabilities in Victoria at its James Bay location on Huron Street.
After conducting studies on how to best improve marine search and rescue across Canada, the eastern and central parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca were identified as areas that need more attention.
The Coast Guard is opening four stations around the Strait as a part of the federal government’s $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan. The other three will be located in Port Renfrew, Hartley Bay and Nootka Sound.
Terry Beach, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, was in Victoria on Friday to make the announcement.
“[This] search and rescue station will be of immediate benefit to mariners in the Victoria area,” he said. “It will enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to marine incidents of all kinds, including search and rescue and environmental response.”
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 35 operates nearby the new Coast Station, while the RCMSAR station at Oak Bay is also not far away.
“We absolutely support the addition of more marine assets on the water, more is better,” said Paul Cumberland, director of administration for the Oak Bay station. “Overall we’re encouraged to see that the government is keen on maintaining and strengthening our searching abilities on the water.”
He noted that RCMSAR stations have already been working well together, citing recent efforts with the Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Centre Victoria in searching for a missing kayaker in Beecher Bay.
The Coast Guard also plans to deploy two new search and rescue lifeboats in B.C. in 2019; the CCGS McIntyre Bay will be stationed at Prince Rupert, while the CCGS Pachena Bay will serve the Port Hardy area.
Both vessels will operate up to 100 nautical miles from shore.