Record funding provided to B.C's ground search and rescue groups

By Dylana Milobar
March 23, 2019 - 12:59pm

COQUITLAM - The province's ground search and rescue groups will now have access to $18.6 million, after the BC Government pledged the record one-time funding.

The $18.6 million represent the single largest provincial ground search and rescue (GSAR) investment in B.C.'s history, marking a 24% increase from the $5 million per year in supplemental funding announced in 2016. 

In a release today (Mar. 23) the BC Government says the funding will be used over the next three years to help BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) and GSAR groups to improve their training, provide administrative support and equipment renewals.

Kamloops Search & Rescue Manager Alan Hobler says the local group is elated to hear the news.

"We are really excited and absolutely delighted today."

Hobler says for now, KSAR is not entirely sure how the money will be distributed.

"It gets filtered through the BC Search & Rescue Association, and so they'll determine the most sensible way of distributing that throughout the province." He explains, "We should know at some point soon what's going to be coming to the team."

As for whether the funds could help the organization in their search for a permanent base in Kamloops, Hobler says that remains to be seen.

"We haven't had those conversations but certainly it's going to support us with some of our larger capital that we have," He says, "We've got a bunch of vehicles that are starting to age and we are looking at replacing them so having some long term sustainable funding is definitely going to help us with that plan."

The money will also will support the Province and BCSARA in working to develop a new governance and funding model, alongside Emergency Management BC funding for two additional staff positions.

"In discussions with BCSARA, I've heard the ground search and rescue community's strong concerns about the need for both an immediate infusion of funding and a clearer path toward long-term sustainable funding," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "That's why we're providing a record-level of funding as an immediate top-up of what B.C.'s GSAR groups are already receiving, as well as establishing a joint committee to move more quickly toward developing a sustainable funding model."

As stated in the release, the Province's 2,500 registered search and rescue volunteers provide a vital public safety service for citizens and visitors, responding to more than 1,600 incidents each year.

"On behalf of the 80 ground search and rescue groups and 2,500 members across the province, our thanks to the provincial government for the single largest influx of funding for search and rescue to date," said Chris Kelly, president, BCSARA. "The funds will provide critical core supports over the next three years, while final details are completed in the short term on a sustainable model."

This new funding will compliment funding that the Province already provides each year ($9 million in 2017-18) to cover GSAR operational costs for deployment, as well as training and equipment costs, and the insurance and liability for the 80 groups serving B.C.

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