On Jan. 11, 2018 Allan Bieganski, General Manager of Four Rivers Co-op addressed a small gathering as he presented a cheque of $19,000 on behalf of the organisation to Nechako Valley Search and Rescue (NVSAR). This is towards the construction of a garage facility to provide a secure, heated space for our emergency response vehicles, greatly improving response capabilities and protecting valuable SAR assets.
“Construction will begin this spring, as soon as we’re frost free for the footings and foundations in,” says Chris Mushumanski, NVSAR volunteer team leader and BC Search and Rescue Association Regional Director for the Bulkley Nechako Region. “We look forward to seeing this building project get started. It’s very exciting that NVSAR has a home and now we have a safe place to park our response vehicles.”
On Dec. 9, 2017 NVSAR held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of their new mobile hybrid command centre vehicle. It is 22 ft long and built to provincial standard SAR with customised adaptations and modifications and fully outfitted to carry the tools required for search and rescue work. The vehicle has about five times the amount of storage capacity than its predecessor. The command centre vehicle is fitted with a new mast system which can be hoisted up for better radio communication. Nechako Valley Search and Rescue is one of the first BC groups to use this.
It was also a moment to publicly recognise several generous funding partners who helped accrue the project value of $228,000. This total amount of funds was gathered from various grants and donors including $100,000 secured from the Community Gaming grant; $33,595 from the Nechako Kitamaat Development Fund Society; $25,000 from the Federal Government AgriSpirit grant; and the approximately $162,000 balance was met by combined contributions from the Province of British Columbia; the Regional District Bulkley Nechako; the District of Vanderhoof; the Friends and Family of Leonard Banga; the Friends and Family of Gregory Teichroeb; the New Gold Black Water Project; Centerra Gold Mt Milligan; the Integris Community Foundation; the B.C. Search and Rescue Association and Westline Ford who provided a competitive deal on the baseline Ford F550 truck.
“All of us at Four Rivers Co-op are proud to be able to support initiatives that support and improve the quality of life in our communities,” says Bud Pye, President of the Board of Directors of Four Rivers Co-op. And each of the other NVSAR donors and funders have in their own way echoed Pye’s words as he goes on to say, “When you support organizations and groups that support their communities, everyone benefits. Ensuring that Search and Rescue operators have he equipment they need to be as responsive as possible will save lives.”
Mashumanski explained that the garage building will have to be engineered and built to the highest emergency standards and that they are nowaccepting bids.
For a capital gaming grant, NVSAR obtained a contruction estimate of $325,000 to build the facility. They have $150,000 of the funds to date, accrued so far from $19,000 from Four Rivers Co-op; $120,000 from the Provincial government; $10,000 from a local family; and another $1,000 donation.
NVSAR currently has 38 active volunteers members following a recent recruitment drive in the Fall.
The group has grown from about 12-20 members about five years ago. They used to receive between 6-10 calls per year, but in recent years calls volume has increased to between an average of 14-15 calls up to 25 calls per year.
“SAR BC has 2,500 volunteers who work a cumulative 3,000 hours per year,” says Mashumanski, “But Search and Rescue in B.C. is not funded in a consistent and stable manner. We are optimistic to soon have a long term sustainable funding model so that funding doesn’t only fall on grant writing and community fundraising.”