Whistler Search and Rescue did not receive the $72,000 grant they applied for from the BC Gaming Commission this year.
Earlier this summer I wrote a series of blog posts on the SAR funding model in BC and attempted to make the point that the grant funding model is flawed, using a scenario like what Whistler is experiencing as an example.
Since SAR teams do not have a guaranteed level of funding that takes into account the actual needs of the team, they are forced to apply for funds every year. Our applications are regularly funded, but almost never to the requested level. There is no oversight on applications, and there is no expertise in the gaming grants office in SAR to properly evaluate the applications.
Grants come in and the SAR team is forced into a “boom and bust” mode where they are forced to spend out the grant, even if conditions have changed and what they applied for is no longer needed.
In this case, Whistler SAR did what they believe to be the ethical thing and put the money into savings rather than buy equipment they do not need. In many places, such financial prudence would be considered proper practise, but when dealing with the gaming grants this is not the case.
SAR teams cannot make multi-year plans under the current system.
You would hope that a world class vital public safety service would enjoy some stable funding that takes into account the actual equipment, training and safety needs of the SAR groups rather than this haphazard arrangement.
The BC Search and Rescue Association addressed this situation in their recent discussion paper, submitted to the BC Government this summer. Adopting any one of the systems in the BCSARA paper would avoid situations like what Whistler SAR is experiencing.