The home base of Cowichan Search and Rescue has been secured for another year.
Cowichan SAR recently signed a one-year agreement with the Cowichan Valley Regional District to continue its lease at the district’s Bings Creek solid waste management facility.
The CVRD had informed Cowichan SAR a year ago that it must look for a new permanent space, since the location it is using at Bings Creek will be wanted for a regional Emergency Operations Centre.
But John Elzinga, the CVRD’s general manager of community services, said it has since been determined that the site has numerous logistical and infrastructure issues to deal with before it can be used as a regional EOC.
“More pieces need to be put in place before we can continue with that plan for the EOC, so we have had to put it on the back burner for now,” Elzinga said.
“Further discussions regarding the timing of establishing an EOC there will be held at a later date. I can’t speak for Cowichan SAR, but I believe it is still looking for a more suitable location for its home base. In the meantime, we’ll continue to work together to meet the needs of both parties.”
Spokespeople for Cowichan SAR could not be reached for comment by press time.
Cowichan SAR is a registered non-profit society whose members provide volunteer search and rescue services on a 24/7 basis to residents of the Cowichan Valley.
In addition to ground search and rescue, the group maintains specialist technical rescue teams in rope rescue and in swift-water rescue, as well as a tracking team.
Its territory spans the width of the Island from the Malahat summit in the south to the Chemainus River in the north.
Cowichan SAR’s headquarters consists of two bays at Bings Creek.
This includes a two-storey vehicle bay for a command bus and a one storey vehicle bay with washrooms and a classroom space above serving as an office and training space.
The CVRD decided the space could be useful as a regional EOC after all the wildfires in B.C. in the summer of 2017.
Elzinga said last year that the CVRD’s plans for a new EOC include locating the centre in a safe location that is easily accessed.
“The EOC will be set up so it can be operational on a moment’s notice,” he said at the time.
“There will also be opportunities for training of staff and emergency personnel. It’s the CVRD’s understanding that Cowichan SAR does have some space challenges in the current facility so the CVRD is working with them to find solutions that work for both Cowichan SAR and the CVRD.”