Work has slowed at the new Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR) headquarter building due to a lack of funds.
The building, on Greig Ave., is almost complete, with approximately $1.2 million spent on the project so far. Terrace SAR is a volunteer organization and it has relied primarily on cash donations, as well as donated labour and materials, to get the building to its current state.
Dave Jephson, vice-president of Terrace SAR, said the new headquarters will provide storage for Terrace SAR’s vast array of vehicles and equipment, a large training room, and space for Terrace SAR members to unwind after difficult missions.
The building is designed to resist earthquakes, Jephson said, and it can serve as a command center for emergency services in Terrace following a major disaster.
Recent work on the building includes grading and landscaping around the exterior and a connection to the electrical grid. But other jobs remain half-finished, such as pouring concrete flooring and installing spray-foam insulation.
“If no money comes in, this is how it’s going to look for a long time,” Jephson said, adding that now is the time to pause construction and wait for more funding.
“We’ve got [the building] to a spot now where it would not be right to continue going, not knowing if we’re going to get more money,” he said.
Jephson said Terrace SAR still has funds available to conduct search-and-rescue operations and training.
He estimated roughly $400,000 in donations is still needed to complete the building entirely, but he said Terrace SAR does not want to put pressure on local small businesses, which are suffering due to the pandemic situation.
“Our local businesses have been so phenomenal in helping us, but at the same time, our small businesses are taking a hit,” he said.
Work on the new headquarters began in 2017 when Terrace SAR purchased the 13,000 sq. ft. lot on Greig Ave. Much of the funding for the project came that year from a provincial government grant sourced from gambling profits. Subsequently, Terrace SAR launched a fundraising campaign targeted at corporate donors.
“The reason I’m targeting corporate is because Terrace Search and Rescue’s area is vast…it’s not just a Terrace issue,” Jephson told The Terrace Standard in 2018. “If our team is responding to [Haida Gwaii], or Bella Coola, or, continually, Vanderhoof, Nechako, Burns Lake with our underwater sonar or ROV, that makes them part of Terrace SAR.”
After moving out of a trailer, originally parked outside city hall in the 1980s, Terrace SAR moved to its current location on Greig St., close to its intended new headquarters, in the early 90s.
But since then the sophistication of the operation and the inventory has far outgrown the cramped, 2,000-square foot space—equivalent to just one of the vehicle bays planned for the new building. SAR is currently forced to store their inventory of gear, trucks, watercraft, trailers, remotely-operated underwater vehicle, and other items in four different locations across town.
Thankful for the spaces, Jephson nonetheless said that kind of dispersal can hamper response times during an emergency.
-With files from Quinn Bender