NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While new and steady funding by the province for B.C.’s search and rescue crews is being welcomed, it’s still a drop in the bucket for teams as large and as busy as North Shore Rescue.
Earlier this week, the province announced that, starting in 2022, it would deliver $6 million to B.C.’s 79 search and rescue groups every year. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the funding is in addition to the $10 million B.C. provides each year for search-related operational costs.
While it sounds like a lot of money, Mike Danks, team leader of North Shore Rescue, says it won’t go far, considering how many teams have to share the money.
“We spend around a half million dollars every year. What we are going to see from this new funding is between $100,000 and $200,000 annually. We have a big shortfall we have to cover every year.”
He points out his team of volunteers consists of 45 active members, and another 20 resource members, and they rely heavily on donations from the community.
“When you look at a team like North Shore Rescue, which has multiple search and rescue stations throughout the North Shore, we have numerous vehicles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. You look at the advanced medical equipment we need,” he notes.
“The training that a lot of the teams now are doing is very specialized, involving aircraft. We have a minimum number of cycles we need to do. That training is very extensive and is funded by the teams themselves.”
Moreover, the team has embarked on an ambitious, and costly, project to build another station.
“We are very lucky that we on the North Shore have search and rescue stations that are strategically located throughout the region. In the Cleveland Dam area, we are going to be building a new operational facility.”
He expects the project to cost well over half a million dollars.
B.C.’s search and rescue teams are facing higher-than-normal call volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 110 calls in the first two weeks of July compared to about 75 in the same period last year.