Municipalities debate Vernon Search And Rescue request

Most in favour of group’s $3.5 million request through alternate approval process

The City of Vernon has backed Vernon Search and Rescue’s request for funds for a new facility through the alternate approval process, so long as all Regional District of North Okanagan municipalities take part.

The city gave unanimous support to VSAR’s request to borrow $3.5 million to facilitate the cost of buying real property to construct a new building to serve the strictly volunteer unit.

“We should stipulate as long as everybody is taking part in it,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

VSAR had approached RDNO about borrowing the money through the alternate approval process, meaning 10 per cent of the electorate in the regional district would have to vote against the request in order for it to fail.

The Village of Lumby has some concerns about the request.

“Our challenge was, we felt like search and rescue asked for the Cadillac version (of a new facility),” said Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton.

“Our concern is that perhaps there are other options that need to be explored before spending $3.5 million. We’d like there to be more homework done before approving the request. We are a rural community and we are very, very supportive of VSAR, but there are many other options that need to be discussed.”

RELATED: Search and rescue seeks building funds

The District of Coldstream has some council members that favour the alternative approval process, some prefer a referendum process given that the local general election will be held in October and cost savings could potentially be realized by running the referendum at the same time as the election.

Coldstream also had questions regarding the boundaries of the service and how it will be funded; would the new building be owned by the Vernon Search and Rescue Society or would it be owned by the Regional District of North Okanagan and be leased to the society?

The City of Armstrong is unanimous in its support of the request.

“When you think of what they do, how they’re 100 per cent volunteer, you really have to support a quality organization like this,” said Mayor Chris Pieper. “They’ve built themselves up over the years and have a great service for the whole North Okanagan.”

Municipalities have expressed concerns about finding cheaper property outside of Greater Vernon, but search and rescue has said it’s looking for a central location for its members with easy highway access.

The Township of Spallumcheen unanimously supported the request with the stipulation that the final purchase of land is the best economical deal.

The City of Enderby and Electoral Area Advisory Committees are 100 per cent in support of the request.

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