An on-line auction plus donations and raffle proceeds have moved the Kitwanga Community Association approximately $27,000 further along in the campaign to build an ambulance station in the community located an hour east of Terrace just north of the intersection of Hwy16 and Hwy37 North.
“It went very well, we’re very pleased,” said Cathy Morgan from the association of the auction which, since the pandemic, has replaced the annual Humpy Run in which people buy numbered wooden fish which are then floated down the Kitwanga River with their owners hoping they are among the first to be scooped out and prizes awarded.
Held from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, there were 75 items ranging from art to gift certificates to jams and dried mushrooms.
In addition to the auction items this year, a cash raffle, a raffle of gravel and firewood, a 50/50 draw, cash donations and the proceeds from three memorial feasts all contributed to the final total, she said.
With this year’s total, the money raised since the first Humpy Run in 2015 and a matching commitment by mining company Pretivm Resources, the association has in the neighbourhood of $250,000 toward its goal of $1 million.
“Now with the $250,000 we can approach major funders, showing them our commitment,” Morgan said.
“We could not have done it without the support of the community, of the businesses,” she said.
Now housed in a leased decades-old former provincial forest service building, the ambulance station is considered past its due date and inadequate for the needs of a modern emergency service.
The $1 million construction cost goal does not include the cost of the land for a station which was donated in 2018.
The plan is to have one bay for an ambulance and one for a firetruck along with crew quarters and office space.
The challenge facing the community association is that few, if any, government or other granting agencies provide monies for the construction of emergency services buildings, said Morgan.
And BC Emergency Health Services, the umbrella agency of the ambulance service, prefers to lease buildings and not own their stations.
Kitwanga is within the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, the recipient in 2019 and 2020 of provincial grants which can be used for construction projects but what could be built must be owned by the regional district, said Morgan.
“We’re just hoping some of the criteria is loosened up,” she said.
The regional district has, however, offered the services of its grant writer.