The current headquarters for Vernon Search and Rescue is located in Coldstream adjacent to the Regional District of North Okanagan administrative office. Photo credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Vernon SAR seeking a new home

Equipment resources beyond capacity of search & rescue headquarters

Vernon Search and Rescue services have outgrown their existing headquarters on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream.

But the question of where they might relocate in bigger surroundings is a process the society behind Vernon SAR and the Regional District of North Okanagan are now beginning to address.

Leigh Pearson, involved with Vernon SAR since 1987, said the existing building is too small to house all their resources.

“I half jokingly say the boats fit better now that the paint has rubbed off the sides of them. It’s pretty tight fit and there is no room for anything else,” Pearson said.

Those Vernon SAR resources include an initial response truck, a command truck, two jet boats, four ATVs, three sleds and a full complement of various high-angle and water rescue equipment.

Related: SAR score new machine

As such, its rescue personnel are often requested to assist other search and rescue units in a mutual aid capacity.

Vernon SAR was founded in 1960 and considered one of the “anchor” search and rescue units in B.C., with more than 60 volunteer members on call 24 hours a day.

Pearson said the Vernon SAR Society is “just starting to get the ball rolling” on how to upgrade the existing facility or find a new home.

“We will need funding support and it will probably be expensive no matter how we do it,” Pearson said.

“In terms of a timeline, probably the sooner the better but we’ll see what happens.”

Helping guide the society forward is David Sewell, chief administrative officer of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

In response to questions about the Vernon SAR building from Vernon director Brian Quiring at the most recent regional board meeting, Sewell said he is helping steer the process to a point where the regional district can address the funding needs and the society has a plan for moving forward.

“What we are trying to do here is get everyone to the finish line at the same time,” Sewell said.

In a later interview with the Vernon Morning Star, Sewell said there is consensus the current facility is inadequate, but a feasibility study needs to be undertaken on how to proceed.

“We need to look at what is needed, how much it will cost, where it could be located and who participates in the funding process,” said Sewell.

“It’s always a balancing act between what do you want and what do you need. Sometimes there is a bit of difference between those two.”

Sewell said the idea of expanding the existing facility has been negated by environment concerns, as expanding the building would encroach protected wetlands habitat.

“There would be hurdles to overcome to pursue that option and the cost to that would not be insignificant, so when the price keeps going up sometimes it’s better to look at a new location.”

Sewell said the feasibility study would allow an opportunity to take inventory of public land holdings within the regional district or other jurisdictions.

“If you can find synergies where a location could be found it certainly would help defray costs up front by not having to acquire land,” he said.

He said RDNO has not budgeted to replace the facility, so a financial commitment would have to be discussed by the board, and alternate funding sources can be explored, from public fundraising to provincial programs.


 


newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Bulls take revenge at South Okanagan rodeo

Keremeos Elks Rodeo packs ‘em in for some high flying fun

Mainly sunny Victoria Day in Okanagan-Shuswap

The South Okanagan is the hottest spot to be in the province for Victoria Day

Princeton RCMP out in full force this weekend

Princeton RCMP are determined everyone will have a safe and lawful Victoria… Continue reading

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

North Okanagan tattoo fundraiser draws record support

Lineup around the block for start and beginning of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Most Read