Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue can expect to have its equipment base ready to use by the end of the year, thanks to a boost from the province.
On Wednesday, June 1, Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness announced that $76,496.29 will be allocated to the search and rescue group.
“Kent Harrison [Search and Rescue] volunteers invest a significant amount of volunteer time to cover their vast search area that is filled with high alpine peaks, large lakes, fast-flowing rivers and numerous hiking trails,” Throness said.
After saving funds for years to build a suitable permanent home for all of the group’s equipment, construction will begin next week on the 6,400 square-foot building, which will be located beside Agassiz’s fire department on Industrial Way.
Local search and rescue president Marvin Anderson said the new building “will provide an ideal base for search and rescue operations for many years to come,” and that the volunteer members “are truly grateful” for the funds.
Group manager Neil Brewer echoed Anderson’s sentiment.
Last year, the group of 28 volunteer members responded to about 50 calls, similar to year’s past. So far this year, they’ve responded to a dozen or so, Brewer said, which is a decrease from the typical call volume around this time of year.
The manager said that they expect to see a change this summer, however, with the U.S. dollar most likely causing more locals to “staycation.”
As for the kinds of rescues the group is called out to – they often vary from rescues on Harrison Lake to cars plunging into embankments along the logging roads.
Due to the wide array of incident types that they respond to, the group has a significant equipment inventory including several watercraft, trucks and UTV’s.
The local teams equipment has been typically funded through community groups and businesses in the area, while most of the larger items have been obtained through federal and provincial grants.
Brewer noted that a benefit to the new location of the building is the close vicinity to the Agassiz fire department – which serves at the the emergency services centre in town.
This more recent boost is in addition to the funding already provided by the provincial government each year to cover ground search and rescue operational costs for deployment, as well as training and equipment costs, and the insurance and liability for the members of the 80 groups serving across B.C.