This Saturday (May 26), members of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary-Pacific, supporters and media will gather at Horseshoe Bay for what’s being termed a “special marine search and rescue event… where a new name and look will be announced for hundreds of volunteer marine rescuers in B.C. and the Yukon, launching a new chapter in the West Coast’s 150-year tradition of volunteers saving lives on the water.”
Squamish is often referred to as a mountain town, and it is. But it’s also a river town and an oceanfront town, and as the population and popularity of our region as a recreational destination grow, it’s important that we have adequately trained and equipped people ready to help out during emergencies.
Last weekend the volunteers who make up the Squamish Coast Guard Auxiliary (SCGA) hosted a boating safety awareness week (see story on page A21). At the event, they showed off the team’s rescue boat and dispensed information about boating safety. One said the new name should help clear up a common misconception about the “coast guard” connection — i.e. that local groups such as SCGA are part of the government. They’re not, which means they need to be supported by the entire community.
Late May is an appropriate time to stress safety on the water, and keeping that in mind, Squamish council did the right thing — despite tough economic times, especially for governments — on Tuesday (May 22) and voted unanimously to allocate $14,000 from its limited contingency fund to help pay for engine repairs on the rescue boat operated by our area’s other, all-volunteer water rescue group: the Squamish Search and Rescue Society (SSARS). Whereas the CCGA performs rescues when recreationalists experience trouble in Howe Sound, SSARS has the challenging task of keeping people safe on our inland waterways.
On a regular basis, both demonstrate the need for the public’s unswerving support through their dedication and selflessness. Squamish council is to be applauded for doing just that.
We wish we could say the same for all of our government leaders. Last week, it was revealed that the Feds plan to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard lifeboat station on Vancouver’s False Creek as a budget-cutting move. Vancouver’s leaders expressed outrage, while a government spokesperson said a plan is in the works to locate a rescue boat somewhere in Vancouver. Don’t hold your breath hoping for something that’ll work as well as what’s there now.
— David Burke