An alternate director with the Cariboo Regional District wants certainty government funding will be given to search and rescue groups across the province.
“Many times people’s bacon has been saved by search and rescue,” said Mary Glassford, alternate director for Area I, during the CRD board meeting Friday in Williams Lake.
Glassford said she is upset because there were no funds allocated for search and rescue in the 2019 provincial budget.
“This isn’t right,” she said. “SAR does search and rescue on mountains, they do towns and cities, they look for kids that go missing, or the elderly wander off, they hard to stop suicide attempts in many different circumstances and are often the ones to pick up the pieces. They assist police on crimes scenes with evidence searches, some of them are the only ones on scene for remote accidents.
There could be something coming down the pipes, however.
On Friday afternoon, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Emergency Management BC put out a media advisory stating there will be a funding announcement on Saturday, March 23, regarding ground search and rescue teams in B.C. at the Coquitlam Search and Rescue and Fire Hall at 11 a.m.
A spokesperson for the office said no further information on the announcement was available at this time.
Glassford asked that a resolution on the topic be drafted for the upcoming North Central Local Government Association convention taking place in the lakecity in May.
The board received the resolution and voted to forward it to staff to write the resolution.
Quesnel city councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, alternate director for Mayor Bob Simpson, said there have been ongoing requests through UBCM to the provincial government to provide sustained funding to SAR groups as far back as 2006.
“The reply back this year, which came back in February, was that they gave a $10 million grant in 2016, another $5 million in 2017,” Roodenburg said. “In February 2018, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General approved in principle for staff to develop for consideration a framework for a government-administered fund.”
Area D director Steve Forseth applauded Glassfordfor raising the issue and said it is important to keep the pressure up.
“If SARs have to fundraise for training and capital they may just throw up their arms and give up because you cannot fundraise for equipment on the backs of bake sales. You need these grants.”
Gerald Kirby, Area J director, is a member of the West Chilcotin Search and Rescue (WCSAR) and said it has always been supported by fundraising in the past.
“All the money the province put out last year was good, very helpful and went a long ways, but it was a one-time thing. The big issue for search and rescue is the ongoing costs that happen every year.”
Emily Epp, manager of communications for the CRD confirmed that SAR groups in the Cariboo Regional District receive funding from the CRD through taxation.
CCSAR is a CRD service and $246,422 is allocated for it in 2019, she said.
“We have contribution agreements with the other three,” Epp added, noting in 2019 $25,678 went to South Central SAR, $12,991 to North Central SAR and $5,134 to WCSAR.