(Cowichan Search and Rescue/Facebook)

A substantial one-time funding of $18.6 million is being provided to ground and search rescue (GSAR) groups across British Columbia.

The investment will be provided to the BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) and then distributed to 80 GSAR groups over a three-year period in order to help them “bolster training, provide administrative support,” and renew equipment.

This is the single largest provincial investment in ground search and rescue operations in BC’s history, and is allocated in addition to the funding already provided by the province each year to cover GSAR operational costs – this initial amount was $9 million in 2017-18.

“In discussions with BCSARA, I’ve heard the ground search and rescue community’s strong concerns about the need for both an immediate infusion of funding and a clearer path toward long-term sustainable funding,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“That’s why we’re providing a record-level of funding as an immediate top-up of what B.C.’s GSAR groups are already receiving, as well as establishing a joint committee to move more quickly toward developing a sustainable funding model.”

The distribution of these funds will be overseen by a management committee formed by representatives from Emergency Management BC and BCSARA.

There are approximately 2,500 registered search and rescue volunteers in BC who respond to over 1,600 incidents every year.