British Columbia

B.C. announces funding for search and rescue groups amid spike in calls

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province has committed $6 million to 79 search and rescue groups every year beginning in 2022.

Province says it will commit an additional $6M annually starting in 2022

A Lions Bay Search & Rescue helicopter in the air over Howe Sound. (Lions Bay Search & Rescue)

Sustainable funding is on the way for search and rescue groups in British Columbia that are seeing an uptick in calls in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province has committed $6 million to 79 search and rescue groups every year beginning in 2022.

He says the funding is in addition to the $10 million B.C. provides each year for search-related operational costs.

The province says search and rescue groups on the ground have responded to more than 700 calls across B.C. since January.

Chris Kelly, president of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, says call volume is slightly higher than usual at this time of year and August is expected to be busy as lockdown-weary residents venture into the backcountry.

Farnworth is asking people to be prepared and stay safe when heading outdoors because while search and rescue teams volunteer their time freely, they are not immune to COVID-19.

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