Long-term search funds needed

Our View

B.C. residents have come to expect that members of various community Search and Rescue squards will drop everything during an emergency.

But imagine what would happen if those volunteer units weren’t there? Who would spend hours looking for lost snowmobilers in the backcountry? Who would help look for a missing child or someone who fell off a boat?

Who would help the RCMP gather vital evidence during a case? The reality is that  communities across the province benefit directly because of the civic-minded spirit of SAR volunteers.

“Within ground  search and rescue there are roughly 100,000 hours of volunteer time  donated to searches (provincewide).

To replace these would cost more than $5 million  annually in direct salary dollars,” said Todd Stone, transportation minister.

That’s why the government’s announcement of $10 million for SAR training, administrative support and equipment upgrades is welcome news.

However, while Victoria’s assistance is positive, it’s only one-time support. Yes, it’s $10 million but it won’t go far among 80 units.

Because SAR volunteers save all of us about $5 million a year, if we had to pay staff for search duties, it’s unlikely the service would exist.

One-off funding is great but more needs to be done to ensure the long-term viability of our search and rescue teams.