It’s been a quiet year for travel so far, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of British Columbians from getting lost or injured while out in the wilderness – sparking concerns by government officials and search and rescue volunteers.
Since January, ground search and rescue volunteers have responded to more than 700 calls throughout the province, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said during a funding announcement on Tuesday (July 21).
“Search and rescue volunteers take a risk every time they go out to rescue someone, and that risk is heightened due to COVID-19,” he said.
“I’m calling on all British Columbians to be safe and to make sure your family, friends and neighbours are being safe, so we can reduce the risks for everyone.”
Farnworth announced that the province would be pledging $6 million annually for the 79 search and rescue teams in the province, beginning in 2022.
The new funding promise comes one year after the NDP government provided $18.6-million to the volunteer groups, marking the largest search and rescue funding in B.C.’s history.
The new funding is part of Budget 2020.
British Columbians are being asked to stay close to home when exploring the outdoors, staying on marked trails and maintaining physical distancing. Officials are urging people to pack appropriately – including adequate clothing for weather changes, as well as other provisions.
“When going into the outdoors, be prepared to take care of yourself and your family,” safety ministry said.
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