A Kelowna based Marijuana Party party member wants to drum up support for the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia.
Brynn Jones posted a message on Facebook, saying “I spent about an hour today speaking to the director of search and rescue of British Columbia about how we as the party… can assist. One of the things we want to address is that we are representatives of the people, we represent you, the people, and we feel strongly that the lack of funding to these types of services… is unacceptable.”
Search and rescue operations have never had a secure funding source, he said, adding the services often rely on grants for funding.
Through his Facebook page, Jones has started a fundraiser.
“This is something that’s very important, regardless of whether it’s a political issue or social issue,” he said.
Edward Henczel, communications officer with Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, said they’re still optimistic as Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia is having conversations with the province.
“We’re hoping we don’t have to hold bake sales and such to buy gasoline,” Henczel said.
Funding for the Central Okanagan Search and Rescue comes from the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, grants and by their own fundraising efforts.
Over the past three years, the rescue group received $67,000 annually from the province for its operations.
In 2016 and 2017, the provincial government announced two one-time grants of $10 million and $5 million for the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) to be shared between 80 SAR groups.
There were hopes this year’s budget would include a long-term funding model for search and rescue, as proposed by BCSARA in 2015.
However, there was nothing in the B.C. Budget 2019 for BCSARA and SAR groups have been left scrambling with current funding to run out March 31.
The uncertainty comes amid increasing demand for search and rescue services in B.C.
The 80 SAR groups across the province are now responding to upward of 1,700 incidents every year, which is more ground SAR callouts than in the entire rest of Canada.