Peace Region Search and Rescue teams want to increase their funding from the Peace River Regional District.
Currently, the PRRD funds them to the tune of $25,000 divided up amongst the four in the region — the North Peace, Tumbler Ridge, South Peace, and Chetwynd SAR teams. They would like to see double that.
The $50,000 would cover roughly 50% of their annual costs, which North Peace SAR president Brian Lamond pegs at about $97,000. (That number, he says, does not include capital costs).
“What we saw in 2018, was that our fixed costs — the insurance, money to keep the doors open, the lights on — we’re at that limit,” says Lamond, speaking on behalf of the four teams to the board.
In their presentation to the Regional Board, 12,288 hours of tasks and training were logged by the teams in 2018. Last year, Chetwynd had 17 members, North Peace 45, South Peace 25, while Tumbler Ridge had 30.
“What we’re seeing like everybody else is seeing is an increased volunteer turnover. Our turnover is 40 to 60% per team per year,” explains Lamond. “So what that means is that we’ve got to do continual, ongoing training every year.”
There’s a minimum of 80 hours of training per person to start, he notes.
“Our costs are going up, and our access to provincial funding is going down, so ultimately the teams are having to support and provide their own training,” says Lamond.
“Our ultimate goal is sustainable funding, so we can spend more of our time training and responding, as opposed to fundraising.”
He notes that he feels the current financial model is unsustainable, and hopes to receive funding from the provincial government.
The teams also requested a commitment from the PRRD and the municipalities for discussions regarding the need for secure training and equipment storage facilities for each team.
“Three out of the four teams right now our equipment is stored outside, that means it’s a slower response,” says Lamond, also noting the South Peace team has been victimized by theft.