The following is the North Shore Outlook article on the legacy funding initiative being undertaken by NSR.
The changing role of the North Shore’s all-volunteer mountain rescue team is taking a toll on its members, says North Shore Rescue leader Tim Jones. And that, coupled with a particularly grueling season in the backcountry, has the group re-evaluating its function and its funding for the long-term.
“We’re doing some very serious work now and it’s become evident to members of this team how key we are in the emergency response network for the North Shore,” Jones told The Outlook in a phone interview Monday. “What we deliver to this community is essentially a fourth emergency service” after fire rescue, police and ambulance services, he added.
Following on the heels of two “textbook” helicopter rescues of injured, under-equipped hikers from the Howe Sound Crest Trail above Lions Bay this past weekend, Jones said 2012 has been and will continue to be a year of “dramatic” change for the squad.
“It’s becoming very evident to us, as the senior members of the team, exactly what is required to make this team continue and the investment that we’re going to have to put into it both in training, funding and recruiting, logistics and communications,” Jones said. “The challenge is to create a legacy of funding and that’s going to be our next major priority,” he said.
“Municipalities could never pay for something like this,” he added, putting the real cost of operating the team far beyond the budgets of North Vancouver city, North Vancouver district or West Vancouver.
Blaming this year’s lingering snowpack for some of the most dangerous and demanding late-season extractions the team has ever encountered, Jones said 2012 has already marked a “serious change” from years past.
“It’s really come to a head for us this year,” he said. “The number of serious calls we’ve been doing and the reliance that is on us is incredible.”
The stats seem to bear that out, with North Shore Rescuers serving as the primary responders in two alpine fatalities so far in 2012 and assisting in others, compared to three fatalities for all of the previous year. In the first six months of 2012, North Shore Rescue responded to 32 calls to help 49 people, for a commitment of 1,756 rescue hours and approximately 20,000 total hours when training, fundraising and education are included, according to numbers posted on the organization’s website.
The latter half of 2012 promises to be as busy off the mountain as on for Jones and his team as they consider going public in the coming weeks for some much-needed cash to pay for the completion of a new post-disaster headquarters in North Vancouver and to recruit as many as four new rescue members by the year’s end.
“The challenge is to create a legacy of funding and that’s going to be our next major priority,” Jones said. “We have to create a legacy fund to maintain our team — that’s the only way it’s going to continue on.”
“And I’m talking major legacy funds,” he added. “We’re talking millions.”
Concrete footings for the new North Shore Rescue base were poured on July 3rd as part of the City of North Vancouver’s new waterfront works yard at 61 Bewicke Ave. The rescue team’s 5,000-square-foot wing of the new building will have a radio-command room, administrative office, planning and equipment rooms and vehicle bays to house the team’s four trucks, two snowmobiles, amphibious all-terrain vehicle and equipment trailer.
The majority of North Shore Rescue’s funding comes from the three North Shore municipalities, with North Vancouver city and West Vancouver covering about a quarter of the municipal costs each, while North Vancouver district picks up the other half.
By Todd Coyne – North Shore Outlook
Published: July 16, 2012 1:00 PM
Updated: July 19, 2012 9:58 AM