The assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard, Pacific Region, Vija Poruks, is in Prince Rupert this weekend as Seafest salutes the Coast Guard on its 50th anniversary.
“For me this is an absolute treat. A lot of people in the local Coast Guard have volunteered their time doing floats and preparing activities. I can’t put into words how grateful we are to have this acknowledgement from the City of Prince Rupert. It’s emotional,” she said.
“Within the Coast Guard we;re very proud of this 50th anniversary celebration, it is allowing us to showcase the great work we do. For a lot of years the Coast guard was not in the public eye for a number of reasons.”
The 50th anniversary and Seafest celebration come at when the Coast Guard is undergoing some major restructuring, including moving down to two Marine Traffic Control Stations in BC – one on Vancouver Island and one in Prince Rupert – and moving from five regions across the country to three. Despite the changes, Poruks said the future for the Coast Guard is bright in Prince Rupert and across the country.
In Prince Rupert Poruks said there may be more staff as one of the two MCTS stations in the province, and getting renovations done to the aging base at Seal Cove is certainly on the radar. As well, later today the Coast Guard is welcoming a new pollution response vessel and there could be more on the way.
“There are two midship patrol vessels arriving in BC in the near future to create more of a presence, and we’re in the process of determining where they will be. It is speculative at this point, but I could see one being for the north and one being for the south,” she said.
“The north coast is isolated but, as I think everyone in Prince Rupert is aware, is an important entry point to Canada. It is also an area where maritime activity is on the upswing…The Coast Guard presence here is solid, and how that looks going forward is an item of discussion.”
On the national level, Poruks notes that there is reason for optimism for the organization.
“The announcement of an additional $5.2 billion is a strong message form the Federal Government that the Coast Guard is here to stay. It is a huge signal that the Coast Guard is solid,” she said.
During the Seafest weekend Poruks will be taking in the parade from the steps of City Hall, will be meeting with people at the Coast Guard booth in the DFO parking lot, will be on the Cape Dauphin for the Sailpast and will be onboard for the blessing of the fleet.