The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue Society has secured the much-needed financing it needs to finish construction of its new operations facility at the Qualicum Beach Airport.
Since construction began in the fall of 2020, ASAR has been seeking donations to cover the shortfall that resulted from the escalating cost of the new hall.
The society had raised $700,000, including a provincial gaming grant of $250,000. But due to the price of materials going up and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of the project went up to $1.2 million.
Recently, the help they were looking for arrived, when the Coastal Community Credit Union approved financing for the balance of the construction cost.
“The group is really, really happy about this,” said Paul Nash, one of ASAR’s search managers.
The society has been working with the CCCU for quite a while said Nash, and they come through in a big way to help them finish the new 6,500-square-foot building.
“The credit union funding takes us to the point where we can complete 90-95 per cent of what we need to do,” said Nash. “We may have some other things to do after that’s all finished. But that will be cosmetic finishing of the building that we’ll be handling in later years.”
Nash said they’ve outgrown the current hall they share with the Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department. The new building, expected to be completed by September, will provide the ASAR a central place t0 accommodate all their work equipment and also a place where they can hold training they require to perform their jobs.
“That really is a huge asset for us,” said Nash. “It’s something we’re really looking forward to.”
Nash said the society is grateful for the overwhelming support received from the Town of Qualicum Beach, which provided a 40-year agreement for ASAR to use the land at the airport, from businesses in Parksville Qualicum Beach, from different groups and organizations, and also from generous individuals.
“It has been actually a bit of a surprise,” said Nash. “As you know we’re all unpaid professional volunteers. And then having the community get behind this to support this, it’s been great. It’s really been surprising and it’s actually raised our profile in the community which is nice.”
The society also credited the assistance given by Don May Construction, tasked to build the facility. Project manager Derek Heinz said they’ve been working on the project since last September. They were hoping to finish the building a month from now but due to COVID-19 they had to push it back to summer.
Arrowsmith Search and Rescue has close to 50 volunteers who provide various specialized skills and certifications that include rope rescue, swift water rescue, equine and ATV rescue. They also offer programs that include Project Lifesaver which provides individuals at risk with an armband that can be tracked should they wander off away from home and get lost.
There’s also the Adventure Smart, where the society provides education to children and adults about outdoor adventures.