B.C.’s search and rescue volunteers are getting a major boost.
The provincial government is providing a one-time $10 million for training, administrative support and equipment upgrades.
“It’s wonderful news,” said Pete Wise, with Vernon Search and Rescue and a B.C. Search and Rescue Association director.
“The 80 SAR teams in the province will benefit.”
Wise admits that the government announcement came as a surprise.
“Search and rescue has had some support but never the support it needed to sustain itself,” he said, adding that the demand for services has been increasing, including in the North Okanagan.
The volunteer units have largely been left on their own, in the past, to cover the costs of their activities.
“We will continue to fundraise but this will help with equipment and training,” said Wise.
Once allocated, the funding will be spent according to the needs of local search and rescue teams.
“Within ground search and rescue there are roughly 100,000 hours of volunteer time donated to searches. To replace these would cost more than $5 million annually in direct salary dollars,” said Todd Stone, transportation minister, in a media release.
“We are grateful for their commitment and in turn, government is strengthening its commitment with this one-time grant.”