West Van aux. coast guard gets new digs at Horseshoe Bay
West Vancouver’s diving and boating epicentre in Horseshoe Bay will now be home to an auxiliary coast guard vessel and operations centre.
On Monday District of West Vancouver council approved a “license to occupy” agreement authorizing Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary Station 1 – West Vancouver to set up its headquarters in Horseshoe Bay.
Currently, the volunteer operation makes due with a garden shed at Fisherman’s Cove to store its specialized equipment.
“It’s literally a garden shed,” said CCGA Station 1 leader Dugal Purdie. “Getting a four-man team changed in there is challenging.”
Response time has also been delayed in the past as volunteers contend with slower traffic on Marine Drive to get to Fisherman’s Cove. Purdie said in these cold waters, a couple of minutes can be the difference between life and death.
Under the DWV arrangement, the auxiliary coast guard will now occupy an old warehouse building at the end of the municipal dock in Horseshoe Bay. But they can’t move in just yet.
Purdie estimated $20,000 worth of materials is needed to re-roof the building, renovate the interior and outfit the operations centre and ready room for the volunteers.
“We’ve got to raise funds for that,” explained Purdie. “We don’t have a penny for this at the moment. We couldn’t start fundraising until the deal was done [with the DWV].”
All of the labour will be done by volunteers. Meanwhile, the West Van CCGA is actively seeking donated construction materials.
The CCGA is funded through donations to a non-profit society and some grants from BC Gaming. Station 1’s brand new $530,000 dedicated rescue vessel - a jet boat with 40 knots per hour and rollover capabilities - was mostly paid for by donations from the private sector. Purdie said they still need $30,000 to outfit the boat with specialized search and rescue equipment.
The DWV is waiving the moorage fees and donating the old building to the auxiliary coast guard in exchange for them offering public education programs. Purdie said the operation is seen as valuable to the community and provides an immense amount of coverage from Howe Sound to English Bay and all points in between.
So far this year, CCGA Station 1 has been tasked to 31 incidents. Purdie said they attended a wide variety of calls, but notes there were several incidents with divers. In most of those cases, the diver was brought by vessel to the Horseshoe Bay pier and met by emergency responders.
Nearby Wycliffe Park and Ansell Point are considered underwater playgrounds and attract divers from all over the Lower Mainland. Purdie said diving accidents are critical cases that involve decompression issues and where every minute counts.
The Fisherman’s Cove station will remain in operation when CCGA station 1 new headquarters is finished before the next boating season.
“Oh absolutely, oh sooner than that,” he said.
To donate to your local CCGA-P Station 1, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are tax deductable.