Vision Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang doesn’t care who owns the land on which the former Kitsilano Coast Guard station sits as long as the building reopens.
Jang said a leaked document he obtained could indicate the land the Coast Guard station sits on will be sold. The station was scheduled to close this spring, but the base closed with no notice Feb. 19, catching many who had hoped to save it off balance.
The document, titled “Update on Jericho disposal,” offers details on the proposed sale of three properties owned by the federal government, including “Jericho Beach, DFO and RCMP sites.”
Jang said the abrupt closure of the Coast Guard station combined with the mention of the sale of a DFO property made him curious.
“So we did a title search and it said the station is on federal Crown land,” said Jang. “But then the Coast Guard said no it’s not, it belongs to the province.”
The Conservative government announced last year the Kitsilano base, which employed 12 staff and moored two search and rescue vessels, would close this spring for an estimated saving of $700,000. The feds say the Coast Guard can rely on the Sea Island hovercraft stationed near the Vancouver International Airport and a new “inshore rescue boat” during the summer, as well as continued work with five volunteer Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue units.
The Courier obtained a copy of the leaked document, which outlines key items to be negotiated during the sale of the three properties, including a memorandum of agreement between First Nations, each custodian and Canadian Lands Company regarding the negotiations and a purchase agreement establishing price and conditions of the sale.
Jang said it appears the federal government approached a First Nations band regarding the sale of the properties, though it’s unclear whether the former Coast Guard station is part of those properties. The name of the First Nations band is not included in the document.
Jang wants to keep pressure on the provincial and federal governments to maintain the land and building in anticipation of the station’s re-opening. The Kitsilano station is the busiest in Canada, responding to about 300 calls annually.
“It doesn’t matter who owns it,” said Jang. “If the province owns the land and the feds own the building, they both need to keep it in good repair so it will be a fully functional station when it reopens.”
Last week Conservative MP for Vancouver-South Wai Young told the Courier the base reopening was an unlikely scenario. Young did not respond to an interview request on the land sale before the Courier’s press deadline.
A statement from Fisheries and Oceans emailed to the Courier, explained the land where the Kitsilano station was located is owned by the provincial government, which in 1964 reserved it for the federal government to moor rescue craft until the location was no longer needed.
The email continued: “The Canadian Coast Guard is working with Real Property in Fisheries and Oceans Canada to identify next steps for the building and site. The Province of B.C. will determine what to do with the land and the federal government will gain no revenue from the property where Kitsilano station was located.”