The Shuswap’s marine search and rescue organization is seeking help from the regional district to acquire and construct a permanent base on the lake.
The planned Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Sicamous facility would have a floating garage for secure and enclosed storage of the crew’s two rescue boats and smaller training vessel.
A video presented to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board at their Oct. 15 meeting stated the enclosed space would help protect the rescue boats from the elements. Snow and ice covered docks and boat decks are a safety concern and, when snow is removed from the boats, it has to be done so very carefully to avoid damaging equipment. The video also explained how one of the rescue boats’ inflatable hull is deteriorating due to sun exposure. Replacing the hull would cost $35,000.
The Shuswap Lifeboat Society, which funds the local RCMSAR, asked the CSRD board to approve a 25 per cent increase to the funds granted under the Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue Grant-in-Aid Extended Service Bylaw. The bylaw allows the regional district to provide up to $105,400, the lion’s share of which goes to the Salmon Arm-based Shuswap Volunteer Search and Rescue group. A 25 per cent increase could bring up to $25,000 annually to RCMSAR, which station leader Fred Banham said could allow them to borrow at least half the cost of the new boathouse.
According to the video, the Lifeboat Society is researching grant opportunities and corporate sponsorship to help fund the rest of the project.
Lifeboat society president Bruce Weicker said the total estimated cost of the project is between $600,000 and $800,000. The cost estimate depends heavily on the location chosen for the boathouse, and if services can be extended to it as part of the Bruhn Bridge replacement project – which is currently being planned. The presentation to the board from Weicker and Banham noted the District of Sicamous is advocating on their behalf in hopes of including a fully-serviced location for the RCMSAR station in changes to the Finalyson Street Boat launch included with the Bruhn Bridge project.
CSRD board chair Kevin Flynn said the increased funding would likely have to be considered as part of the regional district’s budget process early next year.
Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin said it has been very good to see the RCMSAR station grow since its inception in 2012. Mayor Terry Rysz said Sicamous is very supportive of working with the RCMSAR on the project, as the organization is needed on the water of Shuswap and Mara lakes.