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Funding for a New Vernon Search and Rescue Facility Approved by Community and RDNO

Posted Friday, October 19, 2018

The funding for a new Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) facility was approved by the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO). On October 17, 2018, the RDNO Board of Directors adopted a service establishment bylaw and a loan authorization bylaw for up to $3.5 million for the new facility based on the results of the Alternative Approval Process.

“The Alternative Approval Process gives electors the opportunity to vote against a proposal”, said Ashley Gregerson, Communications Officer, RDNO. “The Alternative Approval process was open to all eligible voters in the RDNO from July 25 to September 18, 2018. RDNO received zero submissions from the public stating opposition to funding a new VSAR facility.”

With the loan authorization bylaw and service establishment bylaws approved, the RDNO 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”, said Mark Forsyth, Director of Vernon Search and Rescue. “We are thrilled that the RDNO and the people of the North Okanagan are supportive of funding a VSAR facility which is large enough to facilitate our growing membership and house lifesaving equipment. We look forward to working with the RDNO to complete the next steps in this process.”

Formed in 1960, VSAR currently has approximately 65 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. VSAR is staffed by 100% unpaid volunteers, with no remuneration received by any member.

Their 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. RDNO has been providing an annual grant to VSAR since 2003 and will continue to do so. RDNO will own the new building and continue to lease the new building to VSAR at a nominal fee.