A special meeting of Vernon council has been called for Monday afternoon, June 29, to discuss a potential future new home for Vernon Search and Rescue.
The meeting will centre on a text amendment to current Zoning Bylaw #5,000 by adding the words “emergency and protective services” as a primary use in the I4: Business Park zone.
VSAR currently works out of their building next to the Regional District of North Okanagan office off Aberdeen Road and Highway 6 in Coldstream, but have outgrown the site.
They began the process of looking for a new home in late December 2017 and after a successful alternative approval process in 2018, the RDNO passed bylaws to borrow up to $3.5 million for land and facility.
Search and Rescue has identified a vacant, east-side portion of the tekmar Control System Ltd. property at 5100 Silver Star Road as a site viable for a new location.
“The total size of the property is 9.1 acres,” said city economic development planner Roy Nuriel in a report to council. “Currently, tekmar is using only a portion of the site, the remaining is reserved for future tekmar expansion.VSAR is acquiring 2.14 acres from the remaining property, and a subdivision of the subject property would be required.”
The property is zoned I4: Business Park which does not include “emergency and protective services” as a permitted use. City staff is recommending council add the words as a permitted use to the existing bylaw.
If council approves first two reads of the text amendment request, a public hearing on the matter will be scheduled.
VSAR’s current location poses many constraints for the organization including insufficient storage for emergency equipment and vehicles, limited space for administration and volunteers and almost no available on-site indoor and outdoor training space.
The rescue group has looked at a number of potential sites with one of the primary considerations being located adjacent to a major traffic route in order to reduce response time in case of an emergency call.
Vernon Search and Rescue has been in operation since 1960. They have approximately 65 volunteer members that are on-call 24 hours a day.