A new permanent Canadian Coast Guard station has opened in British Columbia's capital city in time for the busiest season on the water.
The search and rescue station, located on Dallas Road alongside the coast guard's Victoria base, officially opened Tuesday and will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Trained crews will be ready to respond at a moment's notice to a maritime emergency in the area, which is especially important during summer months when boating activity in the area increases.
On site is a 14.7-metre Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat called the CCGS Cape Calvert, as well as a rigid hull inflatable boat.
The station was built with federal funding and replaces temporary search and rescue headquarters that has been in use since 2018.
According to John Sartisohn, officer-in-charge at the station, crews have already responded to 30 search and rescue missions this year and about 300 total since the temporary station was established in 2018.
He said the pandemic has also increased the number of inexperienced people on the water as British Columbians sought COVID-safe activities.
"It's been busier than years in the past because of that," said Sartisohn, speaking Tuesday on CBC's All Points West.
The station cost $3.8 million to build and includes a double height workshop for vessel maintenance, a first aid room, as well as living quarters on the second floor for the station crew.
In addition to Sartishohn, the station is also staffed with an engineer and two rescue specialist seamen.
"The new, permanent search and rescue station in Victoria will allow the women and men of the Canadian Coast Guard to better respond to marine emergencies on the busy Strait of Juan de Fuca," Terry Beech, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said in a statement.
The Canadian Coast Guard is opening additional search and rescue stations in British Columbia as part of the federal government's $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan to improve marine safety and protect Canada's marine environment and coastal communities.
This includes search and rescue stations in Hartley Bay and Tahsis, and a multi-purpose marine response facility planned in Port Renfrew.