Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and Ron Oszust, Director of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), set up a meeting with Solicitor General Shirley Bond last Tuesday in Vancouver to figure out where exactly the province stands on Golden and District Search and Rescue’s (GADSAR) eviction problem.
GADSAR will be evicted from their current facility because BC Hydro needs the building back for the new Columbia Valley Transmission Line, and so far, another facility to house one of the busiest Search and Rescue organizations in the country has not been secured.
GADSAR had previously sent two letters to the Ministry, one to the Solicitor General and one directly to the Minister’s MLA office. The organization is still waiting on an official written response.
Oszust explained that the catalyst for setting up the meeting was that at that point and time, the Ministry had not been clear what their position was, and GADSAR’s eviction deadline was approaching quickly. Both Oszust and Macdonald felt that they had to act quickly.
“We were making sure she was aware of the magnitude of this problem and we were looking for a formal response,” said Oszust.
Bond was clear with her message: Her Ministry has no funding mechanism to provide assistance for capital projects. The gaming grants that Search and Rescue organizations previously used for funding are now under a different ministry and are not used for capital projects.
Oszust said the Minister was very supportive of GADSAR volunteers and knowledgeable about their efforts.
Bond did commit to having a senior staff person co-ordinate a meeting in Golden that involves all of the key players in the next seven days.
“There is a solution here,” said Oszust. “We all need to be sitting down at the same table to make it happen. Now, the Province will be sitting down at the table with us. This is critically important.”
On Thursday, April 14th, representatives from the province — regional members of the Provincial Emergency Program —met up with Shauna Speers, Kyle Hale and Joel Jackson of GADSAR to discuss where the organization can go from here.
Although nothing was formalized at this meeting, Speers said GADSAR feels “optimistic going forward.”
GADSAR has also been given another month— until the end of May— to move out of the building. The organization will be moving out as planned, but is happy to have more of a buffer to work with. The road rescue equipment will go to the HMC building near the visitor’s centre, while it’s yet to be determined where the mountain rescue equipment will go.
Speers said everyone involved in GADSAR would like to thank the community for its continuous support through this hard time.