Canadian Coast Guard and First Nation sign MOU to build new base on Vancouver Island

The Canadian Coast Guard and Pacheedaht First Nation have taken the first step toward building a new marine facility in Port Renfrew.

On Monday, they signed a memorandum of understanding to begin developing a $22.5 million coast guard base that would provide marine search and rescue and environmental response services.

"We are going to work with the First Nation to develop it and co-manage it," said Bernadette Jordan, the minister responsible for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Greater environmental response capacity

The facility is part of the federal response to community impacts from the Trans Mountain Expansion project. The Canada Energy Regulator, a government agency under the auspices of Natural Resources Canada, set out 156 conditions for Canada to meet to avoid potential impacts from the project.

"The Pacheedaht First Nation identified a gap in our response capacity on the West Coast," said Jordan. "So they put forward tailored measures to help address those concerns."

Jordan says the facility will greatly increase the presence and capacity of the coast guard on the west coast of Vancouver island to not only respond to issues that may arise from TMX but other marine emergencies as well.

In 2016, amid some criticism, the Canadian Coast Guard closed a marine communications centre in Comox, one of three on the West Coast.

Details on a timeline for construction of the new Port Renfrew base, its operational capacity and staffing positions for Pacheedaht members have yet to be worked out.