Kamloops Search and Rescue given a permanent home

KSAR members train in their current space. Photo supplied

It’s been an exciting summer for Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) with the development of a new permanent premises for the volunteer-run organisation. KSAR assists in recovering lost and injured people, and is involved in a growing number of emergencies in the region, including the recent high profile search for missing Sun Peaks resident, Ryan Shtuka.

Despite being a stalwart component of local emergency response, the group has operated out of temporary bases since inception in the 1970s. Most recently it’s based out of a disused City of Kamloops building in Mission Flats, which the group has outgrown.

“The city has been kind enough to allow us to use [their building] and they didn’t have to,” explained KSAR search manager, Alan Hobler. “But it’s definitely not suitable for the long term vision, how the team’s going and for current needs…we need some room to grow into.”

Thanks to Kamloops’ Cooper Family Foundation, that dream is becoming a reality. The former site of the North Shore’s Dirty Jersey pub and adjacent bowling alley is being renovated for KSAR as the Cooper Centre, with all building renovations and cost of rent covered by the foundation’s Wings Above Kamloops.

The foundation raises money through real estate projects and uses the proceeds for causes in the local area. The vision of Wings Above Kamloops, according to its website, is community supporting community.

Nelly Dever, the foundation’s president and CEO, first announced the project in May after she proposed the idea to KSAR in 2018. Dever told  Kamloops This Week it was an easy decision to pick KSAR as a beneficiary because they give selflessly and never ask for anything back.

Hobler described KSAR’s initial reaction to the proposal as one of disbelief. 

“It was hard to believe that a private foundation was actually going to come forward and donate that kind of money to help us build our dream facility,” he said.

The 11,780 square foot space will house KSAR’s vehicles and equipment all under one roof for the first time. Previously they were stored at multiple locations due to space restrictions.

The Cooper Centre will also be able to accommodate KSAR’s growing training requirements, secondary to the group’s growing membership and call volume. There will be a command centre, debriefing room, showers and more meeting and social space than they currently have.

“We don’t have chairs in our current location,” Hobler explained. “We have two chairs in a very small office, but when we’re with other members you don’t have anywhere to sit. Now it’s going to feel like they have a place to belong. It’s going to feel like home, finally.”

KSAR will share the site with the B.C. Search Dog Association, a daycare, parkade and a new Tim Hortons.

Hobler says the group hopes to move into their new home in February 2020.