A rendering of what the new Nanaimo Search and Rescue base on Fourth Street might look like. (de Hoog and Kierulf Architects)

Nanaimo Search and Rescue wants to get started with rebuilding base

City of Nanaimo being asked to budget $1.3 million toward $2.5-million project

Nanaimo Search and Rescue is ready to get to work on rebuilding its base of operations.

R.W. (Bob) Wall Ltd.’s general manager and CEO Donna Hais told Nanaimo city councillors at a finance and audit meeting Wednesday that she was ready to submit a building permit on behalf of the search and rescue organization.

She asked that the city set aside $1.3 million toward the $2.492 million project cost in the capital budget as soon as 2022.

“Our client is anxious to proceed. The facility as it is right now is not working well for them…” she said. “The building does require a major upgrade, both structurally and for fire purposes.”

Last September, city council approved a 25-year co-management agreement with Nanaimo Search and Rescue for the old Harewood fire hall building at 191 and 195 Fourth Street.

At the time of the agreement, there was an understanding that the city and the tenant would share the cost of a $40,000 facility plan to be completed in fall 2021, but according to a staff report, Nanaimo Search and Rescue “has taken the lead on the planning process and have paid for expenses to date, with regular updates to city staff.”

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Hais told council that a four-to-five-phase plan has become a two-phase plan, as some components such as fire suppression sprinklers need to be in place right away for the organization to utilize sections of the building.

Hais said Nanaimo Search and Rescue has 60 volunteers who can deploy to emergencies, yet their trucks and boats are being stored at private residences because of a lack of secure space at the Fourth Street base.

“We can’t leave the boats on site if they’re not secure, because then they’re vulnerable and we end up showing up and our boat might have missing parts off a motor, or our trucks have been vandalized and we can’t start them,” she said.

RELATED: Nanaimo Search and Rescue to build a long-term base in Harewood

Search and rescue has more than $1 million in its account thanks to an anonymous donation and can fully fund the first phase of the project.

Mayor Leonard Krog commented on the service the organization provides in Nanaimo.

“As we encourage more outdoor activity in this community and invite people from around the world to explore our amazing trails, hike in our hills and recreate in the outdoors, people forget the other side of all of this is not everybody proceeds with wisdom and caution; not everybody pursues these activities in a safe and sensible manner,” he said.


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