Both the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach agreed to provide letters of support to the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) on behalf of Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR).
Ken Peters, an ASAR manager, went before both municipal councils to elaborate on their three-fold request: for the RDN to increase their annual funding; to provide a one-time capital grant; and for the RDN to ‘buy out’ ASAR’s current facility in Hilliers, which is shared with the Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department.
Their annual budget sits at $10,000, and the organization will ask for it to be raised to $30,000 – which, according to Peters, is on par with what Nanaimo Search and Rescue receives.
ASAR plans to use the one-time capital grant of $100,000 to pay down the mortgage of their new operations centre currently under construction in Qualicum Beach.
The buyout request of the current facility in Hilliers, constructed by SAR members, asks for $300,000, or 50 per cent of the remaining replacement value assessment.
Peters advised to both councils the original plan was to expand at their Hilliers location, but were advised by the RDN that the land is reserved for the fire department.
“We currently have 57 volunteers that contribute over 9,000 hours annually to the community in search and rescue incidents, training hours and participation and other local events,” said Peters at the May 17 Parksville council meeting. “We provide urban, rural and shoreline search and rescue services across the (Parksville Qualicum Beach) region.”
Their coverage expands from Cook Creek to Nanoose Bay, ending at the pedestrian overpass in north Lantzville, and also extends to the east end of Cameron Lake and Lasqueti Island. They are tasked by police, fire departments, emergency health service, coroners service and other authorities to perform search, rope rescue, white water rescue, wilderness medical rescue and body recovery.
“Our operating costs have tripled the last few years due to increased callouts and more complex search and technical rescues, which has necessitated more and more specialized vehicles and equipment and training.”
At the May 27 Qualicum town council meeting, Coun. Robert Filmer’s motion to provide a letter of support was favourably carried.
In a separate request, Peters asked that Qualicum Beach reimburse the organization $31,500 in building permit fees for their new operation centre.
To that effect, Coun. Scott Harrison’s motion to favourably support the reimbursement, subject to receipt of a staff report the next council meeting, was also carried.
At the Parksville city council meeting on May 17, Coun. Mark Chandler’s motion to provide a letter of support was also carried.