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Province amends SAR approval process for canine and tracking capabilities

The provincial ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness approved an amendment in May which simplifies the approval process for SAR groups.

Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR), Bowinn Ma, informed the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) that the province has simplified the approval process for Ground Search and Rescue (SAR) Groups seeking to add Wilderness Canine, Avalanche Canine, and Tracking capabilities.

In the May 27 letter to RDBN, Minister Ma said the amendment to Annex 2.12 eliminates need for separate provincial approvals, enabling SAR groups to enhance their capabilities more efficiently.

Minister Ma’s decision follows RDBN’s request for provincial intervention in March, prompted by several SAR groups from the area.

Several of these SAR groups, including Houston and Fort St. James,  had also penned a letter to premier David Eby accusing the Emergency Management and Climate Response (EMCR) of institutionalized bullying and ignoring safety concerns raised by its members.

President of Houston SAR Andy Muma had informed RDBN about his group's unsuccessful application for a canine search and rescue operation, citing a moratorium imposed three years ago. Under this the capabilities could only be approved by the EMCR director. Muma said the moratorium had hindered SAR teams across the province from expanding their capabilities despite repeated requests.

Moving forward, Minister Ma told the RDBN that SAR groups can now incorporate search dogs and tracking into their operations without additional provincial approval. Those with Winter Response capability can also develop Avalanche Canine units under the guidelines of Annex 2.12 without further bureaucratic hurdles.

"We remain committed to a collaborative approach with requesting agencies, the BC Search and Rescue Association, and GSAR Groups to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient SAR program," Minister Ma stated in her letter.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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