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Funding approved for new Vernon Search and Rescue facility

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO/Vernon Search and Rescue Group Society
October 19, 2018 - 2:46 PM

VERNON - Both the community and the Regional District of North Okanagan approved funding for a new Vernon Search and Rescue Facility this week.

The regional district board of directors adopted a service establishment bylaw and a loan authorization bylaw on Wednesday Oct. 17, according to a regional district media release. The loan is for up to $3.5 million for the new facility based on the results of an alternative approval process.

“The alternative approval process gives electors the opportunity to vote against a proposal," Ashley Gregerson with the regional district says in the release. “The alternative approval process was open to all eligible voters in the regional district from July 25 to September 18. The regional district received zero submissions from the public stating opposition to funding a new search and rescue facility.”

With the loan authorization bylaw and service establishment bylaws approved, the regional district can begin investigating potential locations for the facility.

“We are an extremely active search and rescue group in comparison to the rest of the province, and we are the only group to serve an entire regional district. Because of this, we face diverse terrain and natural hazards that require a lot of specialized equipment to safely complete rescue operations," Mark Forsyth, director of Vernon Search and Rescue says in the release.

“We are thrilled that the regional district and the people of the North Okanagan are supportive of funding a search and rescue facility which is large enough to facilitate our growing membership and house lifesaving equipment," Forsyth says. "We look forward to working with the regional district to complete the next steps in this process.”

Formed in 1960, Vernon Search and Rescue currently has approximately 65 volunteer members that are on call 24 hours a day and respond to an average of over 80 tasks annually. This is the equivalent to an average of 6,900 man-hours annually, excluding training or administration. This summer search and rescue crews rescued a man who fell after he dropped his phone down Fintry Falls.

The current facility was built in 1994 and was expanded in 2004. Due to the environmental sensitivities in the surrounding wetlands, a second expansion is not possible. The regional district has been providing an annual grant to Vernon Search and Rescue since 2003 and will continue to do so. The district will own the new building and lease it to search and rescue at a nominal fee.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shelby Thevenot or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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