The new facility for Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) is taking shape.
Throughout September, construction crews erected the pre-fabricated steel frame, which can now be seen by commuters on Silver Star Road.
“After much planning and site preparation, we are overjoyed to reach a milestone where you can physically see the shape of the building. It makes us even more excited to move into the new purpose-built space that will meet our needs far better than our current facility,” said Mark Forsyth, VSAR search manager.
Over the years, Vernon Search and Rescue’s membership has grown along with the amount of equipment it uses to undertake different types of rescue missions. The RDNO owns the facility and facilitated an expansion in 2004, but a second expansion was impossible due to the surrounding wetlands’ environmental sensitivities. Without the option to expand the existing facility, the RDNO and VSAR decided that a new building was required.
In 2018, the public approved the borrowing of $3.5 million through an Alternative Approval Process, and since then, the two groups have worked hard to secure a location, determine facility needs, and ultimately get the project to the construction phase.
Throughout the winter, crews will focus on interior works, like plumbing, electrical, and drywall, and expect the project to be completed in the fall of 2023.
VSAR is part of the Thompson-Okanagan region which is comprised of seven search and rescue groups. A total of approximately $390,000 was disbursed between these seven groups this year, according to the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSAR) and this is the first time ground search and rescue groups have received sustainable provincial funding.
“The funding covers about 50 per cent of any group’s preparedness to be ready to respond to searches and rescues (for equipment and training) but all costs that occur during an actual search are covered directly by Emergency Management BC (the province) and are separate from this funding,” said Nancy Argyle, BCSAR manager of public relations and communications.
“Groups must still fundraise to cover off the other 50 per cent of being prepared to respond through public and community support. Donations are always gratefully accepted.”
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