Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has started giving his marching orders to his new cabinet ministers.
In a mandate letter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Hunter Tootoo, Trudeau has asked him to re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard base.
The instruction is listed in the letter as one of 14 top priorities:
It’s one of the many promises Trudeau made while on the campaign trail.
Closure of the base brought a lot of fire on the Harper government, with critics saying they were willing to put lives at risk all to save a modest amount of money.
Trudeau has also told his new Minister of Transport to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s north coast.
The group ForestEthics Advocacy says that spells the end of the controversial Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal.
Coast Guard workers will be reinstated to base
Aaron Ekman, Secretary Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, says the former Kits base Coast Guard workers are expected to return to the base once it opens.
“They’ll go through the various processes that they’ve got in collective agreements to ensure the folks who’ve been working in that station get put back.”
Until its closure the Kits Coast Guard base responded to around 350 calls every year. Ekman says not having the base slowed down the emergency response to the fuel spill in English in April this year.
“In all quarters it was seen that the response time had been lengthened significantly because of the absence of the Coast Guard station, it just didn’t make any sense to shut it down.”
“We’re quite happy to hear the government will be reinstating it.”
Vancouver’s mayor encouraged by the decision
In a prepared statement, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson calls the official order from the Prime Minister to reopen the base “great news for the city, the safety of the harbour and the local waters.”
Robertson says Trudeau told him a couple of weeks ago this was a top priority, and it’s very encouraging to see him following through.