Rendering shows the interior of the planned new B.C. training headquarters for the volunteers with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue squadrons. As part of the upgrade

New training building on rise for B.C. search and rescue

Sooke Basin location to be the centre for all volunteer training in the province

After a ceremonial groundbreaking today (Oct. 22), the backhoes hit the ground for real tomorrow, officially starting construction on the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue’s new B.C. training headquarters.

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue is building the new facility on property it purchased on the other side of the East Sooke Peninsula, near Anderson Cove.

“It’s a spectacular property on the Sooke Basin,” said Rob Duffus, the organization’s communications director. “It’s going to be perfect for our slow boat training and to have access to Juan de Fuca Strait for the big stuff.”

The new building will also provide a new permanent space for the fast rescue craft simulator currently located in a hangar at the Search and Rescue base in James Bay. The simulator can create fog, darkness, bad weather and marine traffic to allow crews to train in a safe environment.

There are 40 different stations around the province, including five around Greater Victoria that have about 150 volunteers. All of the stations currently do their own training, a scenario that isn’t always the most efficient, Duffus said.

“To be able to have all our members here and have standardized training and have access to the simulator will be great, as will having a purpose-built building.”

Search and Rescue volunteer crews log more than 8,000 hours of training annually on the water, in the classroom and on the simulator.

The hoped-for completion of the project is six months, but Duffus said it depends how much help the group can get from members along the way. “We’ve done enough fundraising to get going, but we’re always asking for help and we appreciate the community support we receive.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com