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Feds close Vancouver coast guard station

VANCOUVER - The federal government has officially closed a Vancouver coast guard base that's considered to be the busiest in Canada.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced Tuesday in a notice to mariners that the Kitsilano Canadian Coast Guard Station will no longer offer search-and-rescue services.

The closure was announced last spring as part of budget cuts and drew widespread criticism, but local labour leaders were still caught off guard by the notice.

They say closing the station in the middle of winter and on a day the provincial government is introducing its new budget in Victoria is outrageous and shows disdain for B.C.

The station responded to about 350 calls a year, and search-and-rescue services will now be handled by the coast guard base at Sea Island, in Richmond, which is 17 nautical miles away.

Union leaders were planning to mark the station's closure by holding a vigil Tuesday evening.

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