Rossland’s first-ever headquarters for its local search and rescue group is starting to take shape.
The walls went up on the four-bay garage and office space for the search and rescue group last week.
“This is going to be the finest SAR station in the West Kootenays,” says Graham Jones, a director with the Rossland group.
Located just a few hundred metres south of the weigh station on Highway 22, the facility will provide the first home for local SAR since it formed in 1999.
“Our fleet will be parked here. We have a Dodge one-ton, a 30-foot command trailer, a Suburban for moving the team around, a skidoo trailer,” says Jones, noting everything right now is parked in a city works yard. “Everything will be in the building under cover, secure for long-term protection.”
Right now, Jones says the SAR team meets at various locations, depending what’s available. Training and planning meetings have to be co-ordinated around activities of other groups, like the fire department. While they’re appreciative of all the support they get from other emergency agencies, he says it will help to have a place of their own.
“Having everything here under one roof, being able to do everything from here, muster here for tasks and searches, it will be an unbelievable benefit for us,” says Jones.
None of it would have been possible, however, without a generous donation from Allan Davies, a local businessman who owns the property. Davies will keep one of the four bays for his personal use, and is letting SAR use the rest.
“Graham approached me a year and a half ago, asking me if I could help,” says Davies. “I had the property in the right place, other places in town were not suitable.
“I am just giving back to the city,” he says, downplaying his gift.
Jones is not so reticent to heap praise on SAR’s benefactor.
“Allan was born and raised here. And he is one of those people every city requires, needs.
“Some cities don’t have them. But we have Allan and he has always been helping out, loaning equipment, helping wherever he can,” adds Jones. “This is the same thing on a much larger scale.”
With Davies’ gift the SAR group was able to start work on the building in April. Jones says they’ve just begun applying for government grants to help build the structure, and they have a fairly large pot of money of their own to match anything they get from government.
Using volunteer labour, business donations for goods and services, the walls have been raised, but there’s still a long way to go.
“After we get to lockup stage, we have internal things to complete- a meeting room, board room, operations room, storage, etc,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of work still to do- plumbing, wiring, all this apron has to be cleaned up.
“Whether we get in operational fully by beginning of winter, we don’t know,” he says. “We are just moving forward as fast as we can.”
Even if the ribbon-cutting is many months away, Jones says the SAR team is excited about the prospects of having their own headquarters.
“It is going to mean we can do business easier than we could in the past,” he says. “We can get a call at 8 or 9 o’clock on a winter evening — maybe somebody’s lost, didn’t show up from the ski hill — there’s going to be no ‘where are we going to get together?’
“We can come down here, everyone can get their equipment, get our radios out, everyone can sign in and away we go.
“Having this here is a huge asset we don’t even know all the benefits yet.”