Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 6, 2017

Recognizing Search and Rescue BC

S. Simpson: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to stand and speak to this motion in regard to our search and rescue team.

We know that last week, here at the Legislature, on the second of March, we had the unveiling of the memorial for search and rescue and the 17 volunteers who lost their lives in dedicated service to the people of British Columbia as search and rescue volunteers. That memorial has now joined police, fire and paramedics out here on the legislative precinct, and rightly so.

The member before spoke about Tim Jones. We know that Tim Jones has become an iconic figure in British Columbia for many. He has been recognized, quite rightly, time after time as such a great example of somebody who dedicated themselves to community service for this province and to providing an incredibly critical service in search and rescue — and providing the kind of leadership that he had, not just for the North Shore, but Tim, I believe, was the face and provided that leadership for search and rescue across the province and has been recognized for that. And the recognition is very deserved.

We know that the demand for search and rescue services continues to climb — more than 1,300 incidents last year, where there was a demand for search and rescue services. That’s more than triple the number of demands of service requirements and service requests that we saw in incidents in 2001.

What we have today is 2,500 dedicated volunteers across this province who risk their own lives, who take time away from their families and who do this as volunteers to help fellow British Columbians and people who are visitors to our province when they get in trouble in the back country and in the wilderness. They are often the first people there, and they are the people who suc-

ceed way more often than not in being able to rescue people who need it. And they are, too often — in those sad instances where people don’t survive those trips — the people who come in and do the recovery work as well. Eighty organizations across the province do that work.

There is a challenge, though, and the speaker before talked about the support that the government has provided. I know that support was welcome and, as was noted, largely supporting training and equipment. We know the government made a contribution last year — a two-year contribution that is being used for this. The challenge is that they need sustained support for administration and fundraising.

As the provincial association for search and rescue has said: “The province of B.C. must provide assured, adequate annual funding and support as presented in their proposal for search and rescue.” And they asked for that in order to deal largely with administration and fundraising. You have 2,500 dedicated volunteers who do this work every day, and what we need to do is provide not just annual, every year, but ongoing support that they can rely on so that those 2,500 people can do the job they’ve come to do, which is to help people who need their help and deal with those issues.

We have recognized the critical importance of search and rescue in this province. Now government has to support this volunteer-driven initiative like they mean it, and that means ongoing, committed, sustained support for the long term, year in and year out, particularly on the administrative and fundraising side. Let the volunteers do what they do best.

https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/40th-parliament/6th-session/20170306am-Hansard-v42n10#14064

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