Feds bolster Yukon search and rescue

The Yukon’s search-and-rescue volunteers are getting a $768,000 cash injection from the federal government. The money will be used to turn some oversized sea containers into temporary equipment sheds for the volunteer organizations.

The Yukon’s search-and-rescue volunteers are getting a $768,000 cash injection from the federal government.

The money will be used to turn some oversized sea containers into temporary equipment sheds for the volunteer organizations.

“We’ve always borrowed spare space from fire halls for the truck, or a wildland fire base to park the boat, or somebody’s house to store gear and in a lot of cases the equipment was never in one spot so when the RCMP called them and asked for help that they could go to and grab equipment,” said Michael Templeton, the manager for the Emergency Measures Organization.

Search-and-rescue efforts in the Yukon – unless it’s in a national park, on the sea, or the result of a plane crash – are the responsibility of the RCMP.

Emergency Measures, which falls under the Department of Community Services, helps fund and equip the territory’s civilian search-and-rescue teams that work with police.

“We’re looking to buy seven of these (sea containers) and have them delivered to the Yukon and installed within the communities, said Templeton.

Some of the money will also be used to outfit two donated ambulances with communications equipment, turning them into mobile command posts.

The federal government has been on a search-and-rescue funding blitz after the auditor general released a report earlier this month detailing the sorry state of Canada’s search-and-rescue system.

Michael Ferguson’s report expressed concerns that a shortage of qualified personnel was hampering the Air Force’s capacity to respond to emergencies across the Canada’s vast geography.

But that’s not the only problem.

“In addition to personnel shortages, there have not been enough aircraft available for training air crews,” stated the report.

The government has been looking to replace its aging fleet of Buffalo and Hercules aircraft since 2002.

It’s a process that has been mired in controversy.

A 2010 National Research Council report backed up the allegations that the Defence Department had rigged the bid in favor of the Italian-made C-27J Spartan. It called for the tender to be rewritten.

The project to replace the search-and-rescue aircraft “remains a high priority,” stated the Department of Defense in response to the auditor general’s report.

In addition to several policy changes, the department has also committed to putting $15 million towards a new mid-Earth-orbit search-and-rescue satellite and to continue the life of its existing low-Earth-orbit satellite.

“Taken together, our government is demonstrating its commitment to building capacity and strengthening search-and-rescue response and prevention, across all levels of government and first responders, to better our ability to save lives,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a release.

But more could still be done, said Sara French, the program manager for arctic security for the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation.

“When we look at how Canada stacks up against our circumpolar neighbours, we definitely do not have the same assets,” she said. “There are no search-and-rescue bases located in the North.”

All of the search-and-rescue aircraft that service the Yukon are flown out of CFB Comox on Vancouver Island.

Canada is also the only Arctic nation that doesn’t have a deepwater port along its northern coast.

With 162,000 kilometres of Arctic coastline there is a significant amount of concern about increased shipping along the northern coast and our ability to respond to incidents that would occur in that area, said French.

This week Canada takes over as the chair of the Arctic Council.

“The world is really going to be looking for Canada’s leadership in the North over the next two years, and I think one way to show that leadership is to support implementation of agreements made at the Arctic Council, primarily the agreement on aeronautical and maritime search and rescue, by making sure that we have the systems here at home that are able to support those international agreements.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read