Architectural rendering of the new Terrace Search and Rescue Headquarters.

Terrace SAR fundraising for new headquarters in overdrive

It’s been a stellar year for Terrace Search and Rescue. The group began 2018 with news they would receive the maximum-allowable $250,000 from a BC Gaming grant. They had just purchased a 13,000-square-foot lot on the corner of Greig and Clinton, and the money freed them up to pursue design options for their long-needed headquarters. The community continued its unyielding backing of their efforts, donating funds (almost $300,000 to date) as well as time, crews and equipment, allowing SAR to break ground and put a 25 per cent deposit on the prefabricated building structure from Permasteel Construction.

By the end of this year SAR will have spent $285,000 on the new headquarters with $325,000 still in the bank.

So why does SAR vice president Dave Jephson look stressed?

“Moving forward we do need more money,” he says. “By May, we will need to pay for the foundation and the final bill for the pre-engineered build this will be about $475,000. A company is coming to town with five trucks, and in three weeks that building will be up and they will need to get paid.

“In total, we are still trying to raise more than $700,000 which would see the completion of the building. That can wait, but it will be the ground works, the large classroom with desks, all teaching aids such as smart boards and overhead projectors, equipment rooms and a community climbing wall.”

It’s a tall order, but Jephson is determined to have it all in place for the grand opening during Riverboat Days this summer. Since LNG Canada’s positive final investment decision was announced a modern headquarters with today’s technology is now critical.

READ MORE: Trapped skier saved in late-night backcountry rescue

“Terrace SAR is planning for an influx of 5,000 to 8,000 people over the coming years,” Jephson says. “They’re going to hike, they’re going to fish, they’re going to ski, swim, camp — and what happens when that many more people do this? People get injured. They’re going to get lost. We’ve seen impacts like this before, but never on this scale.”

Whether due to fiscal-year limits or strict criteria for supporting capital projects, the large corporate donations haven’t come in as fast, or as easily as expected. But Jephson hopes a new approach to fundraising will change that.

All along Jephson has kept his eye on the prize by focusing on small gains. He attaches tangible items to every donation. That $20 donation a passerby handed him on the street will buy a gallon of paint, a door knob, or lunch for a volunteer construction worker, he thinks. A recent $12,500 donation will pay for the concrete work on the first and second floors — “That’s huge,” he says.

In this spirit, Jephson has streamlined the donation process while increasing the community’s sense of ownership of the building. Rather than donate cash, donors can choose from a list of items to purchase, like a classroom desk, a window, or a garage bay door. “People or companies will be able to supply items like this if that makes it easier than donating money. As we move forward, we will let people know what we need and together we will build the building.”

Regardless of the method of donation, Jephson says the sustained level of generosity continues to surprise him.

“Some donations are from companies or institutes such as Seabridge Gold, Lucky Dollar Bingo to Terrace Community Forests,” Jephson says. “We just had one family ask their [adult] children what they would like for Christmas and all said ‘make a donation to Terrace Search and Rescue for us’ — that did make me proud.”

Recently, Terrace SAR was singled out by the family of the late Norma Morrison. In lieu of flowers, they asked that people support Terrace SAR.

READ MORE: Terrace hiker survives fall from cliff

Morrison, who lived to the age of 96, was an early Search and Rescue member known for her active, adventurous lifestyle and warm character.

Upon Morrison’s passing last September Terrace SAR received two donations in her name: one for $1,000 and another for $10,000.

“We have had incredible support so far,” Jephson says. “There’s local contractors who have all stepped up to help without asking for payment, this list will be published in the future but many that stand out are Norco Septec, Geier Waste, All North, White Bear industries, John Marshrel, Progressive Ventures, McElhany, Silvertip Signs, Pierre Lousie, and currently on the drilling of the site Westrek Geo and Blue Max drilling and of course the Terrace Standard. Again, the list is long.”

He adds all donors will be recognized by the donor program, but many have requested anonymity and their wishes will be respected. In the meantime, the focus is on completion.

“We are staying the course. We set the opening date as of Aug. 3 for River Boat Days. When could be a better time to open a community building built by the community other than during the traditional community-events weekend of the awesome River Boat Days.”

If donors require a tax receipt, payments can be made to the City of Terrace, in care of Terrace Search and Rescue.

Money transfers can be emailed directly to SAR at The group is discussing options through Paypal and GoFundMe.

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