NSR Clarifies statement regarding the sustainability of Search and Rescue activities.

North Shore Rescue wishes to clarify that the team has not challenged Premier Christy Clark to meet and discuss the recent flood of calls and funding for Search and Rescue (SAR).

The team welcomes the opportunity to discuss changes to the way SAR activities are funded in BC, and the challenges of educating the public about the safe and responsible use of the back-country, in collaboration with all BC SAR teams.

North Shore Rescue has had a record number of calls for assistance this summer and it continues to be high through the fall. It is clear the resources for SAR activities on the North Shore do not currently match the increased demand. The team is financially stable however,  resources are stretched.The reference to the sustainability of SAR activities relates to the human resources of the team. The team has a small number of dedicated members who are available 24/7 and the high number of calls has been personally taxing.

The development of a funding model for Search and Rescue is a complex undertaking. The desire to establish stable funding, while reducing the administrative and fundraising burdens of individual teams is universal.

NSR currently must fund raise approximately 65% of its annual budget. The team is endlessly grateful to their community partners that assist the team with fundraising and donations.  However, the increased number of calls has compromised the time needed for fundraising, recruitment, training and community outreach.

The current proposed Alternative Funding Model for Ground and Inland Search and Rescue in British Columbia has outlined many of the challenges of SAR teams in BC. NSR needs to further study and discuss the revised proposal in order to provide appropriate review  The proposed model is a one-size-fits-all solution, and may be more suitable for teams with a lower call volume. Any solution to the funding issues must fit the needs of all teams and specifically address those on either end of the scale appropriately.

The North Shore Mountains are on the doorstep of the third largest population centre in Canada: the density in Metro Vancouver is rapidly increasing, tourism brings more visitors each year and the wilderness has never been more accessible. Any discussion about stable funding must be partnered with more and better education about wilderness safety. Adding more volunteers, providing more training and equipment will not reduce the number of calls for help. The best way to reduce the number of rescues is through education.

While the Province pays for the various expenses involved in the individual rescues, the larger discussion about SAR team funding needs to address operations, equipment, recruitment, training and education. Solid operational funding would help teams focus on what they do best, rescue those who find themselves in peril in the back-country.