Reopened N.L. rescue sub-centre will be difficult to close, says former co-ordinator

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New lifeboat stations could save lives, says retired rescue co-ordinator

Retired maritime search and rescue co-ordinator Merv Wiseman says he was "absolutely delighted" to hear about the planned new Atlantic headquarters for the Canadian Coast Guard, which will house the reopening maritime rescue sub-centre.

Wiseman told CBC News that the new headquarters is in keeping with the commitment the federal government suggested in 2015 to reopen the rescue sub-centre, which closed under the Conservative government in 2012.

"I think the new building, and the way they're going to incorporate the marine rescue sub-centre within it, I think means exactly that, that we will get that enhanced service, so I'm certainly looking forward to that," he said.

Old building 'outlived its usefulness'

"There's no question the old building had outlived its usefulness, had reached its life cycle quite a while ago," he said.

"I know some of the building codes that they needed to be in compliance with were questionable, so there's a lot of rationale for the new building."

The rescue sub-centre closed as part of cuts made by the then-government led by Stephen Harper, with search and rescue operations co-ordinated by the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax instead.

When the reopening announcement was made in 2015, Wiseman said he expected the centre to reopen within months, but the latest timetable has it opening some time in 2018.

"It's not something that's easily done. It's a fairly significant transition," he said.

"There's recruitment issues, training issues, and a whole bunch of things that need to be integrated with the [Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre] in Halifax.

"My understanding is that if the deadline can be pushed ahead that it will be done, but I think it was necessary, rather than to rush in but to do it right."

New centre entrenches N.L.'s position

Wiseman said he believes the reopened centre will be difficult to shut down in future, because of the fact the government needed to reopen it. 

"I've searched long and hard, and I think many people have searched long and hard, to try to find the justification and rationalization for what happened in the first place," he said.

"I think the idea that this new headquarters is coming, and all the bells and whistles that's going to come with it, I believe it entrenches our position in Newfoundland and Labrador in a way that it would be very difficult for anyone to try to tamper and tanker with this situation again any time in the future."