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B.C. announces funding for search and rescue groups amid spike in calls

VICTORIA — Sustainable funding is on the way for search and rescue groups in British Columbia that are seeing an uptick in calls in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province has committed $6 million to 79 search and rescue groups every year beginning in 2022.

He says the funding is in addition to the $10 million B.C. provides each year for search-related operational costs.

The province says search and rescue groups on the ground have responded to more than 700 calls across B.C. since January 2020.

Chris Kelly, president of the B.C. Search and Rescue Association, says call volume is slightly higher than the usual at this time of year and August is expected to be busy as lockdown-weary residents venture into the backcountry.

Farnworth is asking people to be prepared and stay safe when heading outdoors because while search and rescue teams volunteer their time freely, they are not immune to COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press