2012-09-03 at 13:26
Call to action: Couple hopes to save marine communications and traffic service centre
Ken McInnis and Marcie Lavoie.
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Most married couples travel for leisure but Marcie Lavoie and her husband, Ken McInnis spent the summer traveling to save the city’s marine communications and traffic services centre.
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The Canadian Coast Guard announced in May it would close 10 marine communications and traffic services centres across Canada beginning in 2014 and 2015. One of the centres that’s scheduled to close is the one in Thunder Bay.
Lavoie, a shop steward with the Canadian Autoworkers Local 2181 with the Thunder Bay Coast Guard Operators, said the closure of the station is wrong and she and her husband have given up a lot in order to get the message out to boaters in the area.
The married couple travelled all across Lake Superior down the North Channel to Georgian Bay and finally to Lake Huron. Lavoie said they have collected around 3,000 signatures to put a stop to the closure.
“Many of them weren’t aware of the closure,” Lavoie said. “We have a petition that we’re bringing to the House of Commons. We’ve also been asking boaters to sign a protest postcard that’s being sent in to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans letting him know that people are opposing the closure because it puts our safety at risk.
“It’s been hard. If I haven’t been release to do this then I am at work. As for enjoying the summer, we really haven’t been able to. We basically had to put our lives on hold.”
Canada’s department of Fisheries and Oceans stated that improving safety is behind the closures.
“The safety of Canadians and mariners is the top priority of the Canadian Coast Guard,” said Minister Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in a statement.
“Improving and integrating communications centres across the country will ensure that important information can be properly broadcast to mariners and emergency calls will be received under all circumstances.”
But Lavoie disagreed.
She said closing the station and replacing it with untested technology will only hurt people down the line. She said they act as a 911 operator for any problems out on the water.
“It really is a safety issue,” she said. “There’s been a coast radio presence for safety located in Thunder Bay for more than a hundred years. The local radio operators have a great deal of knowledge of the areas particularly of Lake Superior, which most people know is a very dangerous body of water.”
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