Shipwright Bill Bell accepts a piece of birthday cake from Vija Poruks

Shipwright Bill Bell accepts a piece of birthday cake from Vija Poruks

Canadian Coast Guard celebrates its 50th birthday in Victoria, North Saanich

Two ceremonies mark half-century anniversary of official coast guard services in Canada

Although the Canadian Coast Guard celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday, the service has been around much longer.

“Services on the water were provided by the federal government in one way or another, probably since the 1800s,” said Vija Poruks, assistant commissioner for the Canadian Coast Guard’s Pacific Region. “Even though the formal organization didn’t officially occur until 1962, we’ve really been around much longer than that.”

She and other Coast Guard brass from the coast were on hand at two small ceremonies to mark the occasion at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Institute of Ocean Sciences in North Saanich and at the Huron Street base. About 45 Coast Guard employees ate birthday cake at the North Saanich announcement and listened to speeches.

In part, the future looks bright for the Coast Guard’s Pacific division. It’s getting four new vessels – a new offshore oceanographic fisheries vessel, based at Victoria’s Huron Street station, two new mid-shore patrol vessels and a new hover craft to replace the 15-plus-year-old model stationed at Sea Island, off the mainland.

Meanwhile, the organization is subject to cost cutting, like many other branches of the federal government.

Poruks said the Coast Guard will have to reconsider its use of technology, try to cut the red tape required to get some things done and consider business partnerships to minimize its budget.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m confident we can live up to these challenges,” Poruks told the group.

Visibility and interaction with the community is also a major goal for the coming year.


Did you know?

The Coast Guard provides

• maritime security

• icebreaking for shipping

• marine communications radio

• environmental response for oil spills, etc.

• search and rescue service