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B.C. gov't commits $18.6 million to search and rescue groups over next three years

Last Updated Mar 23, 2019 at 1:13 pm PDT

Search and rescue volunteers, government officials and Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for British Columbia, gather at an announcement for search and rescue funding on March 23, 2019. (Source: Facebook/BCSARA)
Summary

B.C.'s search and rescue groups are staffed entirely by volunteers

The president of the BCSARA, Chris Kelly, says the funding is "critical"

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A big chunk of provincial funding will now be heading to British Columbia’s search and rescue operations.

At an announcement in Coquitlam on March 23, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth committed $18.6 million in funding to ground search and rescue groups over the next three years.

That’s in addition to the $9 in annual funding (as of 2018) the British Columbia Search and Rescue Association receives to cover deployment, operation and equipment costs.

“This historic investment provides dedicated funding so that the province and the B.C. Search and Rescue Association can continue to work towards a sustainable and secure long term funding model,” Farnsworth said.

This is the largest provincial search and rescue investment in the province’s history.

Provincial search and rescue funding announcement.

Posted by British Columbia Search and Rescue Association on Saturday, March 23, 2019

Farnworth said it’s clear funding was desperately needed, given the challenging conditions volunteers deal with during rescues and by “placing themselves in some of the most dangerous situations that Mother Nature can offer, to make sure someone in trouble stays alive.”

The government will also be establishing a joint committee to develop a sustainable funding model for the groups, as well as hiring dedicated staff to work on that model.

Chris Mushumanski, with the BCSARA, says while he’s happy with the funding, making it sustainable is crucial.

“We started in 2013 in terms of building a case for sustainable funding for search and rescue,” he says. “So we’re really happy to see that investment of time and energy on the far side paying off this morning.”

At the announcement, BCSARA president Chris Kelly called the influx of money critical – current funding was set to run out at the end of the month.

“This means that 2,500 volunteers can count on core funding for the next three years, for essentials such as personal protective equipment and training,” he said.

There are 80 search and rescue groups in British Columbia and they respond to approximately 1,600 incidents every year. The groups are staffed entirely by volunteers.