Local SAR teams practiced repelling drills while the Columbia River Skywalk was being constructed last summer.

Rossland SAR member warns of phone scam

BC Search and Rescue does not solicit funds by phone, warns Rossland member Graham Jones.

BC Search and Rescue does not solicit funds by phone, warns Rossland member Graham Jones.

“On behalf of the provincial southeast region, we want to nip this in the bud right now,” Jones told the Trail Times. “We want to get the message out there Search and Rescue will not call you on the phone to solicit funds, this is purely a phone soliciting system which does not happen with BC Search and Rescue, ever.”

Jones’ public advisory follows the launch of a civil lawsuit by North Shore Rescue, alleging a B.C. group is raising funds by claiming to act on behalf of volunteer search teams across British Columbia.

“Each year. BCSARA receives numerous phone calls from citizens and businesses who have been contacted by an organization soliciting funds for ‘Search and Rescue,’” the association stated. “Neither BCSARA nor the Search and Rescue groups recognized by the province as part of the Public Safety Lifeline, solicit funding by telephone.”

Jones says local groups do receive private donations, usually face-to-face, but he emphasized the majority of SAR funding comes from successful grant applications.

“We do get donations from families and friends of people that we either have been able to rescue or, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find them in time,” he said. “But we spent many, many volunteer hours looking for them. So we want to make sure for those people who want to do it, that their money goes to the right places and is used in accordance for what they want it to be used for we don’t want some crook getting hands on their cash.”

North Shore Rescue filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court last week, seeking unspecified damages and an immediate halt to the fundraising activities of the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia.

A statement of defence has not been filed in court, but the vice-president of the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia said he is “dumbfounded” by the legal action and the case has no merit.

“We do act in good faith, we are real,” Glen Redden said in an interview.

The search and rescue society is a registered charity that has been around for 33 years, and provides a last option for families when other searches have been called off, Redden said.

North Shore Rescue alleges in a statement of claim filed with the court that the society seeks public donations by claiming to represent the organization, adding that search-and-rescue teams do not raise money by phone in B.C.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Redden said his group raises money by phone because it does not receive any government funding, but calls are only made to donor lists. The society hires contractors to make the fundraising calls, but they never claim to represent any other group, he said.

“We don’t misrepresent. We clearly identify ourselves. We don’t mention any other team.”

Court documents filed by North Shore Rescue allege that the society disrupts its fundraising.

Redden said he is concerned how the lawsuit will impact his organization.

“It appears our reputation has been significantly damaged,” he said. “And we hope that’s not the case and we hope the people of British Columbia recognize the value in what we do.”

BCSARA represents and supports 80 ground and inland water search and rescue groups across the province. The southeast region encompasses the Arrow Lakes, Castlegar, Creston Valley, Grand Forks, Kaslo, Nelson, Rossland and District as well as South Columbia (Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale, Salmo).

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