Okanagan search and rescue groups are welcoming a significant funding boost by the province as some organizations were facing funding shortfalls.
On Saturday in Coquitlam, B.C., public safety minister Mike Farnworth announced $18.6 million in one-time funding over three years to support 80 search and rescue groups across the province.
“It was just relief, we couldn’t believe it,” said Randy Brown, Penticton Search and Rescue manager.
The additional funding is a huge relief as the volunteer-run group faces a funding shortfall.
“We just finished doing our budgeting process for the next year, looking at all of our needs, all of the different pressures that were coming down the line in terms of replacing equipment which degenerates, to looking at team certifications and sending people off on swift water and rope training, and we had about a $53,000 shortfall,” he said on Monday.
“It’s great news,” said Dan Schlosser, the president of Central Okanagan Search and Rescue.
WATCH: (Aired Feb. 26) Aaron McArthur reports on calls for additional search and rescue funding in B.C.
He is also supportive of the establishment of a joint committee to investigate long-term funding solutions.
“Instead of every year having us go out and try to drum up money, or seeing what the government is going to give us, if they have a sustainable plan in the future that ok, ‘x’ amount is going to be put aside for search and rescue, then I think that is going to go a long ways,” he said.
The BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) says it will allocate and distribute the funds as soon as possible.
The funding announcement comes one month after search and rescue groups spoke out about the lack of new funding allocated in the February provincial budget.