Cowichan Search and Rescue members got their hands on their newest truck Saturday, but the excitement was short lived because they may not have a secure place to park it in the new year.
“It’s looking like we’re gonna have to move out of this place and found a new home somewhere,” said David Olsen, Cowichan SAR fleet manager.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District has provided Cowichan SAR with space at Bings Creek Recycling Centre in Duncan to use as their home base rent-free, for the last seven years .
But after the record-breaking wildfire season in B.C.’s interior the CVRD has asked the team to move out to build an emergency response facility.
“The CVRD is planning on the space being an emergency operations centre, a facility where multiple organizations and services can address a community emergency, and be operational on a moment’s notice. It will include space for training for all emergency services,” said John Elzinga, general manager of community services for the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
10-year Cowichan SAR volunteer Shauneen Nichols says she is disappointed they have been asked to vacate.
“We’re volunteers that are giving our time and now we’ve got to throw our gear over our shoulder and go thromping around for a spot?” she said.
Part of the challenge is finding a space that will be rent-free and big enough for SAR’s trucks and gear.
“It’s all time that these great volunteers are putting in and having financial burden makes it more dicey for us to run things,” said Cowichan SAR president Dewi Griffiths.
“The only other option I can see is we’re gonna have to park vehicles in different people’s driveways and that’s gonna become difficult for deployment. So yes, it’s very stressful for us,” added Olsen.
The CVRD insists they are “Working with Cowichan Search and Rescue to find solutions. This includes ensuring [they] have training and administration space until they find a new home,” said Elzinga.
The CVRD is looking to move in by mid 2018, which means Cowichan SAR has a few months to find space.
“We remain hopeful something will turn up,” added Griffiths.
To help or contact Cowichan SAR in regards to their need for a new home individuals can email: [email protected]