COSAR could see some funding for new search and rescue facility

Click to play video: 'Budget talks for new COSAR home'
Budget talks for new COSAR home
Budget talks for new COSAR home – Feb 1, 2023

The Central Okanagan Search and Rescue team has outgrown its current space, which is located at the Kelowna airport.

“We would really appreciate a secure facility where we can keep our gear safe, ideally in a central location,” said COSAR spokesperson Edward Henczel.

“We would like some place that’s actually suited for the 55 members we have. We have an outhouse and a bathroom for 55 members. We can’t drink the water in our current location.”

Read more: Off-roaders rescued after overnight search in Lake Country, B.C.

Over the years, the facility has seen a number of break-ins, with the most recent one happening in September of 2022.

Maintenance workers discovered the windows had been smashed out of a utility vehicle with several items missing.

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“These incidents speak to our need for a new building with a secure location for COSAR’s gear. As our services have expanded, we have run out of secure storage for our equipment and things like our command unit and the trailer have to be left outside,” COSAR president Brad Trites said in a 2022 press release.

Read more: Central Okanagan Search and Rescue hit by thieves again

Since 2019, COSAR has been asking the Regional District of Central Okanagan for financial help for a new facility.

And now, the regional board has released its 2023 capital draft budget and it looks like COSAR could finally see some much-needed dollars head its way.

“At this point the regional board has expressed and desire for the regional district to assist Central Okanagan Search and Rescue in trying to find a new location, recognizing the situation it’s in,” said RDCO communications officer Bruce Smith.

Click to play video: 'COSAR on large scale search for Kelowna senior Gordon Solloway'
COSAR on large scale search for Kelowna senior Gordon Solloway

Nothing is guaranteed as part of the capital draft budget but tentatively it has sets aside $400,000 for this year, $6 million for 2024 and another $2 million for 2025.

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Henczel says the original request from COSAR was a lot less. In fact, COSAR could now be getting nearly $6 million more than it requested, money that would roll out over that three-year span.

“I think we asked for $1.9 million to help us with that, so the current numbers are a little different but again, we’re not in a position to ask for anything. Any help we get from the Regional District is just amazing,” said Henczel.

Click to play video: 'COSAR holds open house to recruit'
COSAR holds open house to recruit

The regional board will be discussing the first draft of this budget on Thursday with the final budget approval coming in March.

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