On June 8, the provincial government announced its intention to invest in Search and Rescue (SAR) operations across British Columbia.
Eight East Kootenay SAR operations, including Fernie and Sparwood, received a portion of the $517,000 in funding directed to the area. The funding is from a one-time investment commitment to the B.C. Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) for $10 million. The funding will be distributed over a two-year period.
Fernie SAR is set to receive $79,930.81 while Sparwood SAR will receive $42,934.17 in funding from the provincial government. Both local organizations say the monies will go towards offsetting the operating costs of their SAR branches.
“We’re going to be dividing the money into a few areas where it would be a great help to our ongoing delivery of Search and Rescue services in the area. A portion will be used to provide more training to our members, including a number of new recruits who have signed on in the past few months, and to make sure all of our members are equipped with all the right personal protective equipment to do their jobs safely,” said Sparwood SAR Manager, Ed Ehrler. “Some funds will be used to supplement our operating budget so we can keep all our ongoing expenses paid and keep our vehicles and equipment well maintained. Then we’re planning to use the rest of the funding to go toward repairs and updates to our Search and Rescue hall. The building has been through a number of owners since it was built in the 1970’s, so we need to address a few decades worth of wear and tear along with updating things like insulation, electrical, and the interior so it will continue to be a healthy, safe and effective base of operations for our SAR volunteers.”
Fernie SAR Manager, Simon Piney, said he is happy to receive the funding from the provincial government.
“As you can imagine Fernie SAR is delighted to receive this level of funding support. We are grateful to the province for recognizing the contribution our members make to public safety in the area,” he said. “The funds will be used primarily to invest back into our members: training, rescue equipment, safety equipment and communications are all on our list.”
Ehler was also grateful for the provincial government’s support of SAR operations in B.C.
“We’d like to thank the Province of British Columbia for their support of SAR across the province, along with the volunteers of the BC Search and Rescue Association who’ve put in a lot of hard work getting the funding distributed and who continue to work on establishing a stable, long-term funding model for SAR in B.C.,” he said.
“The work our search and rescue volunteers do is nothing short of heroic, putting their own lives on the line to help others in very challenging conditions,” Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett said in a press release. “These are essential organizations in our communities and this funding will help them make needed upgrades and improve their services to the public.”