The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue organization is building a new hall.
The development of their new home is taking place on a property donated by the Town of Qualicum Beach, located just in front of the Qualicum Beach Airport. The ground is being prepped and once the prefabricated building is delivered on Sept. 21, the work to put it up will start on Sept. 28.
ASAR, one of 79 volunteer search and rescue groups in the province, have outgrown their current hall, which they share with the Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department in Whiskey Creek.
“The growth in our population has been quite dramatic with all the construction going on,” said Stuart Kirk of ASAR. “So our call volume over the last decade has doubled. We had to expand the team and add more vehicles to the fleet. Right now more than half of our existing vehicles cannot even fit into our existing search and rescue hall. To continue to serve the community professionally, we need a new home.”
Over the years, the ASAR was able to raise approximately $700,000 for the project, including a gaming grant of $250,000. But the price tag has gone up to approximately $1.2 million due to higher cost of materials, particularly steel, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The volunteer group now needs to raise another $500,000 or $600,000 to pay for the new hall and are asking the public for assistance.
“We are out there for the community, to help the community and we are appealing to the community to now help us,” said Kirk, who heads the ASAR fundraising.
ASAR has 45 members, all certified search and ground and rescue technicians. They also have members who received special training in water rescue, ATV operations and rope rescue. Kirk said they are often called out to help people who get in difficult situations such as lost or injured hikers, ATV rider incidents, older people walking away from care facilities or their homes, or young children straying away from home.
If you are interested in donating you can mail a check to the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue at 3237 Alberni Highway Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada V9K 1Y6; designate the ASAR as beneficiary in an insurance policy if you don’t have any more dependents; give a part of your estate in your will to ASAR; or donate non-registered investments in kind. As a charitable organization, tax receipts will be issued for donations for income tax deduction purposes.
Kirk said they are also currently recruiting new members.
“We average about 40 to 50 calls a year and not everybody can always make the calls,” said Kirk. “So we’re looking for more people to come and join the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue.”
For more information on how to donate or become a member, you can check the Arrowsmith Search and Rescue online at http://arrowsmithsar.ca/