The federal government plans to enhance the Coast Guard presence in Campbell River over the next couple of years, according to Mayor Charlie Cornfield.
At last month’s christening of the new Coast Guard boat, the Cape Palmerston, Cornfield was told Coast Guard services may be expanded.
He was speaking to Vija Poruks, assistant commissioner of Coast Guard, about the replacement of the 70-foot Point Race with the smaller Cape Palmerston, a 47-foot lifeboat, when future plans came up in conversation.
“I was joking around and said ‘great, when’s the second boat coming?’” Cornfield said. “I didn’t think one big one for one little one was right considering we’re one of the busiest stations.”
That’s when Poruks told Cornfield of the government’s considerations.
“I’m hopeful they’ll build a station and offices and everything,” Cornfield said. “We don’t really have a proper station here. Where do you go if you need to find the Coast Guard? It would be nice to have one here.”
Cornfield said he’s not sure how far off a commitment may be but is optimistic as Poruks plans to return to Campbell River sometime in August.
Cornfield said in reality he would like to see a Navy presence in Campbell River, not a second Coast Guard cutter.
“I like to see synergy between departments,” Cornfield said. “You’d have a bigger boat that could provide coastal defence and it would be armed so fisheries could use it, the RCMP could use it, and the Coast Guard could use it.”
He said part of the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s decision to replace the Point Race with a smaller vessel was because in Campbell River the Coast Guard doesn’t have a great need for a boat with overnight capabilities.
“If you had a Navy cutter, and if you needed an overnight presence, then you could still do it,” Cornfield said.
Although bringing a navy boat here may be a long way down the road, Cornfield is still pleased to know the city could have its own Coast Guard station.
“Everything is subject to budgets of course but it’s nice to know they’re considering an enhanced presence in Campbell River as we are the service centre for the North Island and the central coast,” he said.