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Coast Guard building still unoccupied

The new Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services building in Port aux Basques remains unoccupied thanks to COVID-19. – © J. René Roy

PORT AUX BASQUES – Although the Southwest Coast region has thus far come through the pandemic relatively unscathed, dealing with COVID-19 continues to prove troublesome for some residents, businesses and public facilities.

Even the Canadian Coast Guard is experiencing delays.

The current facility on Army Hill, which was built in 1977, has a pleasant view overlooking the harbour but is consistently exposed to severe weather, which can make it difficult for employees to access during wind and snowstorms. Bearing that in mind, the Coast Guard chose to build its new facility in Grand Bay West Industrial Park.

“Sustainability was a key consideration in the design and construction of this new infrastructure, including LED lighting and a high-performance building envelope designed to resist extreme weather conditions in the area, and help reduce energy costs. The use of natural light in the new building promotes employee health and well-being,” stated Janet Kelly via e-mail.

Kelly is the Communications Advisor for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Although the new Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centre may look complete, the 17 Coast Guard employees have yet to be relocated to the new building.

“It is unknown when the move will be completed since preparatory work has been delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is ongoing,” wrote Kelly.

The scenery outside the window will eventually change for employees, but modern technology allows the Coast Guard to operate just as efficiently in the industrial park without a direct view of Port aux Basques harbour.

“While much of our contact with marine traffic takes place with vessels in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and along the south coast, closed circuit video cameras are being installed on the tower on Army Hill to provide visual situational awareness of activity in the harbour,” noted Kelly.

A smaller structure will be constructed at the Army Hill site to house electronic equipment presently in use, but so far no decision has been made regarding the potential divestiture or disposal of the old building.

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