Members of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte regional district board were voicing their “extreme concern” at the loss of the coast guard ship, the Point Henry, and its possible replacement with a much smaller 47-foot motorboat that is much too small, according to the board.
“This vessel, will not meet the needs for our region. This vessel was deigned for very short ranged operations in very limited areas and will not provide the services that the Point Henry has for us in the past. The Point Henry has in many cases been our main medical services vessel on the coast here,” said board member Des Nobles.
Another board member, Karl Bergman, pointed out what he believes to be a larger trend of governments trying to save money by attempting to cut safety services in the northwest, including the consultations on automating lighthouses in the region, and requiring commercial boats pay for navigational aids.
“What do they want? Lives? Is that what they’re looking for? Because the Point Henry saves tenfold around here. Maybe lives aren’t worth anything on the North Coast. If we don’t have the appropriate vessel for rescues people will die. That’s why we brought the damn thing here in the first place; people were dying,” said Bergman.
The board members approved a motion to send a letter of protest to the federal government about the issue.
The board also officially announced the schedule for its budget reviews, where members will go over the proposed budget, deliberate and make amendments. There will be three rounds of voting on February 19, March 4, and March 18. The budget will be adopted at the regular board meeting in March.
A report by the district’s waste management branch announced that they have an agreement with waste management in Terrace and are receiving monthly shipments of 20 to 25 tonnes of cardboard to the Prince Rupert’s recycling facility.
Members voted to approve the transfer of the lease for the Oona River School from the Ministry of Education to the regional district. This finalizes a deal to obtain the school building, which will be made into a community centre.