Nova Scotia

Cape Breton search and rescue seek new building with election

Cape Breton Ground Search and Rescue is hoping a long search for their own building will come to an end next year, based on promises by mayoral election candidates.

Mayoral candidates both promising to help the group find a home

Currently search and rescue vehicles are stored outdoors, and equipment scattered around the community in Glace Bay, N.S. Operation members are hoping for a new building to solve the problem. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Cape Breton Ground Search and Rescue volunteers are hoping a long search for their own building will come to an end next year.

All of their vehicles currently are housed outdoors at a site near Glace Bay, N.S.

"We've never had a building," search manager Paul Vienneau said. "All of our equipment was housed in different people's houses."

Having their own building would save valuable time, he said, especially when called out for a search in wintertime.

"To have the vehicles parked indoors and get a call in the middle of February without having to chip the ice off and clear the snow out and get them all warmed up ... just jump in the truck and open the door and leave," he said. "Wow ... that's all I can say."

Election promises

Four years ago, Cecil Clarke made an election promise to help the group with cash flow and a building — and was elected as mayor, Vienneau said.

Clarke had proposed building a new police station in Glace Bay, and giving the search and rescue team part of that space, he said. 

Cape Breton Regional Mayor Cecil Clarke. (George Mortimer/CBC)

'Incredibly selfless volunteers'

The issue has come up again in this fall's mayoralty campaign in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

"After this election when we can look forward to a new police station in the next capital budget for Glace Bay," Clarke said at last week's mayoralty debate. That building "is a place for the Ground Search and Rescue to possibly have a long-term home."

Opposing candidate Rankin MacSween criticized Clarke.

"Over and over again you see these volunteers ... these incredibly selfless volunteers who are holding a community together and trying to do magnificent things," MacSween said. "They need to be supported."

Mayoral candidate Rankin MacSween. (George Mortimer/CBC)

'I leave that to the people'

Cape Breton Regional Council has approved funding for a design and build study on a new Glace Bay police station. 

Clarke also has pushed on the campaign trail that he is promising to support ground search and rescue this time.

"I leave that to the people to make that decision on the 15th," he said, referring to the municipal election date.

MacSween, reached at his office, said he doesn't know the details of Clarke's idea, but said "of course, we need to service this organization as a municipality, of course they need a home, and I would commit that we will work with them to resolve this."

Clarke said if council approves the new police station, construction could start in the spring of 2017. He expects the building could be finished by the fall. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

George Mortimer is a longtime reporter in Cape Breton.

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