EDITORIAL: To the rescue for search and rescue

Tourism brings lots of money into B.C., but not enough of that cash is making it to our search and rescue organizations, whose volunteers care for those visitors when their trips go awry.

Tourism-related provincial tax revenue totalled more than $1.1 billion in 2016, according to the Tourism Industry Association of B.C.

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That year saw about six million overnight international visitors arriving.

Many of those visitors are keen to experience B.C.’s rugged backcountry, whether that means a hike up the Grouse Grind or a backpacking trip into Joffre Lakes park.

Social media has only added to that trend. Beautiful bloggers doing yoga on mountain summits or preparing to jump into glacier lakes have added a carefully curated glamour to nature’s rugged appeal.

Nor are the images accidental. Tourism agencies like Destination B.C. pay such social media “influencers” big bucks to promote the backcountry as a place where the cool kids are hanging. But with those increased numbers come more accidents.

Local search and rescue teams, like North Shore Rescue and Squamish Search and Rescue, are among the busiest in the province.

With all the money that’s promoting B.C. as a happening wilderness playground, it’s time a commensurate and stable chunk of cash went to supporting our search and rescue teams.

North Shore and Sea-to-Sky rescue teams are regularly called on to perform rescues in very rugged terrain.

Our current system leaves hardworking SAR teams stranded in ways they don’t leave our tourists — unsure if needed help is coming when they need it.

What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.

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