by Andru McCracken
The Province has agreed to fund search and rescue groups $18.6 million over three years to bolster training, provide administrative support and renew equipment.
The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth said that organizations like Robson Valley Search and Rescue need an immediate infusion of funding but also what he called a “clearer path forward toward long-term sustainable funding.”
“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,” said Farnworth.
The funding announcement is welcome news for Robson Valley Search and Rescue manager Dale Mason.
The funding is due to be distributed soon, but Mason has not yet been informed how much money will flow to the Robson Valley.
BCSARA, the BC Search and Rescue Association thanked the province for the single largest influx of funding for search and rescue to date.
“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,” said Chris Kelly, president, BCSARA.
The new funding is in addition to 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.
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.