Coast guard to base inflatable rescue boat in Stanley Park

The federal government is moving ahead with a previously announced plan to have an inflatable rescue boat patrolling the Vancouver Harbour during the summer months.

On Wednesday morning, MLA Randy Kemp announced the new service will be based out of the HMCS Discovery Navy Reserve base in Stanley Park.

The service is expected to fill the gaps created by upcoming closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard lifeboat station announced last year as part of a nationwide reorganization of the coast guard.

Kemp said the Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) service will be up and running at the Stanley Park base in the spring of 2013 and will work with the Sea Island Station in Richmond, where the coast guard hovercraft is based.

The smaller rescue station will be operated from the May long weekend to after Labour Day in September, covering the peak boating season. Staff will include one rescue professional and two summer students.

The closure of the full-time lifeboat station in Kitsilano has raised widespread concerns about boater safety in the Vancouver area, but the federal government has maintained the area will have sufficient resources for emergency responses.

There are already three such stations on the West Coast located at Nootka Island, Telegraph Cove and Cortes Island, and a total of 24 across Canada.

The other IRB stations typically provide summer employment for six students, who work on three-person teams using five-metre inflatable boats.

The students are trained to respond to vessels in distress, fires, public education and medical emergencies. They are paid between $14 and $18 per hour.

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