VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Outrage is building over the decision by Ottawa to close the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station, and a public campaign is being launched to save it.

Vancouver councillors, Park Board Commissioners,NDP MP’s and Coast Guard workers are urging people speak out on a Facebook page about why the station is needed.

Plywood boards covered in messages of support have already been set up outside the base, just days after the decision was revealed.

Councillor Kerry Jang says there’s been no consultation on the cost cutting move and he’s angry. He notes how many local leaders found out about the plan through the media.

“I would like to say simply to the Prime Minister and the Federal Government that closing this base is sheer madness,” he believes. “As my son said to me over the weekend, let’s put the Prime Minister and his cabinet out adrift in the harbour for 30 minutes and see how they like it.”

Jang adds a bailout by the city is not an option because the Coast Guard is a federal responsibility.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada argues all operations can be handled out of the Sea Island, but that base is 17 nautical miles or 30 minutes away. Councillor Geoff Meggs says that’s an unacceptable response time.

“Hundreds of people, some with almost no skills and experience, head out on what can be very treacherous waters,” explains Meggs. “Fireworks is a huge example. We do need back-up. We still have a working harbour in False Creek, and all kinds of other activity going on, and it’s a major destination for tourists.”

The Coast Guard’s union claims 55 lives have been saved by the Kits team this year, nine this past long weekend alone. It adds many joint-missions are conducted with American Coast Guard teams.

The Kitsilano location has been called the busiest Coast Guard station in Canada, carrying out 300 rescues a year at a cost of about $900,000.

Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes says that’s a relatively low figure when it comes to public safety.

“They not only are out on the open water,” she notes. “They have situations where people in the middle of the night are walking in this area and are fearing [for] their lives. They have young women out here that may have guys who’ve been drinking in the forest coming out after them, and they come here and knock on these doors. They buzz a ringer and this is where they get help.”

Meanwhile, Meggs says there’s actually an argument for expanding Coast Guard services. A motion goes to council this week that will urge the Federal Government to reverse its decision to close the station.

“Which we hope is unanimously passed,” says Meggs. “In fact, given some of the challenges and expansion that are coming in our port area, it’s probably time to look at expansion.”

“This is a port city, a city very close to the water,” he adds. “This is an essential service. It’s not something that’s a frill, something that you tighten your belt with when the going gets tough.”

The Kitsilano Coast Guard Station is set to close at the end of the summer. The jobs of more than a dozen crew members are on the line. It serves waters from False Creek and Burrard Inlet, to Indian Arm, Howe Sound, and the Gulf Islands.