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BCSARA disappointed funding for search crews left out of budget

File photo: Search and Rescue helicopter. (Mike Lloyd, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Time is running out for the provincial government to guarantee funding for up to 80 search and rescue teams.

Chris Mushumanski with the BC Search and Rescue Association was hoping Tuesday’s budget would at least renew a commitment of $5 million per year.

“I think it’s safe to say the BCSARA board, the ground search and rescue groups, the SAR prevention program AdventureSmart and the 2,500 volunteers would have been really delighted to hear a funding model announcement. But it appears at this time, that’s not the case.”

Four years into this program, he says they actually need about $6 million a year to adequately fund province-wide operations.

“In 2015, we put a funding model to government. They’ve been deliberating on that since then. They’ve given us a one-time funding announcement that was allocated at $5 million.”

Mushumanski points out that funding expires at the end of March. “There’s nothing announced to replace it. So, we do not have $5 million as of April 1, and we need $6 million.”

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But he says there is still time.

“The board is still confident that the province has the time to do the right thing and provide essential, critical funding for search and rescue — for the prevention program, for its critical incident stress management program — before the new fiscal starts on April 1.”