Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Announces $40M for Coast Guard Base as Service Changes Raise Alarms

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Announces $40M for Coast Guard Base as Service Changes Raise Alarms

Article excerpt

New coast guard base for St. John's, N.L.

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The federal government announced plans Wednesday to spend $40 million on a new coast guard base in St. John's, N.L., amid concerns that ongoing marine service cuts will risk lives.

Politicians of all stripes in the province joined loud, angry and ultimately futile protests three years ago before Ottawa shuttered a maritime rescue sub-centre in the city.

A marine communications and traffic services centre in St. John's stopped broadcasting last month. A similar site in St. Anthony on Newfoundland's north coast is to be phased out in August, leaving locations in Placentia, Port aux Basques and Happy Valley-Goose Bay to handle weather warnings, distress calls and monitor marine traffic.

"There's nothing that has been shut down," Rob Moore, the federal regional minister, told reporters Wednesday. "We're not using technology from four decades ago. We're going to use modern technology, and that has allowed us to consolidate some of these substations, consolidate when it comes to search and rescue.

"We have to continue to provide that protection, and that's a big part of what today is about."

The new coast guard base that will serve as Atlantic region headquarters will go up near the site of the '60s-era building on the St. John's harbour.

The old structure will be demolished when the new one is finished in 2018, Moore said.

About 200 coast guard employees will all move to the new building. It will feature tidal energy for heating and cooling and improved security, Moore said.

Absent from the event on the waterfront were provincial officials. A spokeswoman for Moore said it was a federal event and the exclusion was not unusual.

The provincial minister responsible for fire and emergency services reiterated Wednesday in an emailed statement the Progressive Conservative government's opposition to Ottawa's approach. …

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