With backcountry search and rescue operations becoming common occurrences, particularly in the Lower Mainland, the attorney general has invited public input on how to help the province’s 77 volunteer search and rescue teams.
According to a release from Ujjal Dosanjh, "the number of search and rescue incidents is increasing 15 per cent every year." The attorney general says search and rescue programs "face new challenges because of an increasing population, more tourism and the growing popularity of high-risk outdoor sports."
Dosanjh’s ministry, in consultation with search and rescue officials, has come up with five proposed options to help search and rescue teams, with one of the primary considerations being a fund to allow teams to purchase equipment without any cost to volunteers.
The five options are:
o a surcharge of .5 per cent on outdoor equipment
o a surcharge of 25 cents on ski lift tickets
o fines for people who ignore warning signs and go out of bounds
o suspension of ski lift ticket privileges
o a combination of surcharges, fines and suspensions
The Provincial Emergency Program has hired a full-time search and rescue co-ordinator and has increased funding for training, staffing and public information programs, according to Dosanjh.
"I would like us to be able to provide a steady stream of funding to enhance the volunteers’ ability to purchase equipment at no cost to themselves. Therefore, I’m inviting comments from the people of British Columbia," Dosanjh said in the release.
A successful rescue of a snowboarder who was lost on Cypress last week reportedly cost $8,000. The boarder, who went down the back-side of the mountain, was on the hill over night but was only located after skiers — who had also gone out of bounds — heard him calling for help. The skiers notified search and rescue after they got down to Highway 99.
People can write to the attorney general at: PO Box 9044, Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4.