Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador has endorsed the lowering of flags at municipal buildings to half-mast today, in recognition of the impending closure of the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre in St. John’s.
The move will acknowledge “the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians whose lives will be put in jeopardy by the action of the federal government,” according to a news release by the organization, its members representing 276 cities and towns in the province.
“Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador supports the work of the (sub-centre) and will continue to lobby the federal government to reverse the decision to close the (centre) that was made in June 2011. MNL forwarded a resolution addressing the closure at the Atlantic Mayor’s Congress in 2011, which was unanimously passed. Further action on this issue with the federal minister is ongoing,” stated the association’s release.
The endorsement does not mean municipalities will be required to lower their flags.
As The Telegram reported earlier this week, all calls to the sub-centre are now being re-routed to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, according to retiring rescue co-ordinator Merv Wiseman.
Wiseman has sworn to continue the fight for the return of the sub-centre service, even after his employment with the federal government comes to an end May 8.
Wiseman told The Telegram he would be making the request for the flag lowering to both Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador and the provincial government.
Meanwhile, St. John's city council has approved one last act of defiance in the war of words to save the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's.
The city and provincial flags flying outside city hall will be lowered to half-mast today to "commemorate the lives of those Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who will be put at risk as a result of the (centre's) closure," said Coun. Frank Galgay, who introduced the motion at Tuesday night's council meeting.
It's a simple gesture with a clear message, said Mayor Dennis O'Keefe.
"Essentially, what we are doing is sending that message across Newfoundland and Labrador, sending it to Ottawa - sending the message of our dissatisfaction and symbolizing the closure of that facility," O'Keefe said.
Coun. Danny Breen said, "there's not much more we can say about this. It's a terrible decision."