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Grand Forks rearch and rescue receives provincial funding

Group among several receiving share of $6M given to BC Search and Rescue Association
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The province announced search and rescue groups in Grand Forks, Oliver-Osoyoos and Princeton will be receiving around $63,000 each from a pool of $6 million being given to search and rescue groups. Gazette file photo

The provincial government is helping search and rescue groups in the southern interior offset costs to make it easier for them to perform life-saving duties.

Grand Forks Search and Rescue, Oliver-Osoyoos Search and Rescue and Princeton Search and Rescue will receive their share of $6 million from the province through funding to the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) with the average distribution amount being approximately $63,000 per group.

Funding will support life saving rescue equipment, essential training, protective equipment for volunteers and administration costs, such as insurance.

This is the second year of this annual funding agreement between the province and BCSARA, which is the only agreement of its kind in Canada.

annual funding from the provincial government will help ensure that Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) groups and their volunteers are there when people need help in the backcountry, New Democrat MLA for Boundary-Similkameen Roly Russell stated in a news release.

“We are blessed with spectacular outdoor spaces and natural beauty in British Columbia, and a lot of us love spending time out exploring and playing in the backcountry,” he stated. “Of course, people can always get into trouble in the backcountry. Search and Rescue teams across the area do so much to keep us safe and are so important when we need to call upon them; this funding will help them continue their critical work helping people when they need it.”

These groups provide critical support to agencies, such as police and BC Emergency Health Services by locating and extracting people from dangerous environments. Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) support is requested through the Province by agencies, including police and BC Emergency Health Services, more than 1,500 times per year in B.C, according to information on the B.C. Government news website.

More than 3,000 GSAR volunteers are registered with the province.

To ensure that the life-saving work of GSAR groups and their volunteers are there when people need help in the backcountry, the province is providing nearly $6 million in annual funding, This is the second year of this annual funding agreement between the Province and the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA), which is the only agreement of its kind in Canada, the website stated.

Prior to this agreement, the Province provided more than $33 million in grants to BCSARA over six years.

“B.C.’s search and rescue groups are made up of hard-working and dedicated volunteers who provide critical services to people in B.C.,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness in a statement on the website. “We’re proud to support search and rescue groups, including those helping with on-the-ground wildfire evacuations, by continuing to provide sustainable funding through this first-of-its-kind agreement.”

The Province provides funding to BCSARA, most of which is distributed to the 78 GSAR groups in B.C. This funding supports the GSAR groups’ life-saving rescue equipment, essential training, protective equipment for volunteers and administration costs, such as insurance.

“The sustainable funding provided by the Province is vital for GSAR groups across B.C.,” said Chris Mushumanski, president, BCSARA. “It funds important equipment, our programs, and supports the volunteers after tough calls with our critical incident stress-management team. We appreciate this important investment in public safety as the busy season for searches, rescues and delivering evacuation notices is well underway.”

This annual funding is in addition to incident-related funding the Province provides each year to cover operational search-and-rescue costs associated with rescues and training deployments, which amounted to $7.85 million in 2021-2022.

This funding also supports key administrative and operational activities, including the outdoor education program AdventureSmart and mental-health supports for volunteers.

For information about BC Search and Rescue Association, visit: https://bcsara.com/

For information about AdventureSmart, visit: https://www.adventuresmart.ca/

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@kmckinley
karen.mckinley@blackpress.ca

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