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Fire chief says closure of coast guard base puts lives at risk

Feb. 20, 2013, Vancouver – The sudden closure of Vancouver's coast guard station is being criticized by the city's mayor and fire chief.

February 20, 2013
By The Canadian Press

Feb. 20, 2013, Vancouver – The sudden closure of Vancouver's coast guard station is being criticized by the city's mayor and fire chief.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says he's shocked and disappointed the station was abruptly closed Tuesday.

Protests began shortly after the federal government warned in its last budget that the station would be closed sometime in the spring.

Robertson says he believes the closure will put lives at risk and says the city will have to figure out some kind of backup plan if something goes wrong on the waterfront.

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Fire Chief John McKearney says there was no hint of the closure Monday when crews took part in an exercise with the coast guard, adding the closure puts the safety of the harbour and waterways at risk.

However, the coast guard's Gary Sidock says it was that successful exercise with a hovercraft from Richmond's base that proved a new search-and-rescue plan for Vancouver's harbour was operational.