The Lighthouse Country Marine Rescue Society (LCMRS) will get a boost to its annual operating funds from the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), but will not get additional funding requested to help upgrade its facilities and safety equipment.
The RDN board carried a motion to increase its annual contribution to the society from $7,500 to $8,500 this year and increase it to $17,500 for 2022–2026.
The board did not carry a recommendation from the RDN Committee of the Whole (COW) to allocate $32,500 of Electoral Area H Community Works Funds to the LCMRS to help pay for a working washroom and female crew member change room, as well as new night vision equipment.
“We do have information that this particular project would most likely not be eligible for community work funds,” said Chair Tyler Brown at the board’s March 23 meeting.
The additional operating budget will help the society pay for fuel, moorage, insurance and crew training, according to Doug Dickson, president of the LCMRS. He said insurance is the single largest annual cost — $9,000 for this year.
“Our group has been around for about 20 years. I’d like to say we have been kind of flying under the radar a lot for this last period — small group, we are just starting to get our social media stuff going and build more of a presence,” Dickson said during a presentation to the RDN COW earlier this month. “But by and large we operate without a lot of fanfare and in the past without a lot of financial help.”
The society, which serves Fanny Bay Area to French Creek, including Lasqueti Island, aims to create a diverse and safe volunteer environment. Dickson said there is currently no dedicated change room for female crew members and no working washroom at the dock.
“At the best of times that’s problematic — during COVID it’s even worse because we don’t have any good hand washing stations,” he said.
Of the $32,500 the society asked the RDN for, $7,500 would have been put toward these amenities.
“What we are trying to do within our station is create an environment that is safe and inviting so that we can attract and retain a more diverse team. Our station is very small, but we already have five female members in it and one female coxswain (captain) and that’s quite rare,” Dickson said.
The society has ten volunteer crew members available around the clock, as well as three people on Lasqueti, four coxswain and seven shore based members, he said.
The remainder of the funds LCMRS asked for ($25,000) would have been used to purchase night vision equipment to allow crews to respond quicker and safer to calls at night, which Dickson said make up a large portion of the calls.
“I like to think we have a high impact on the people we serve. You may not see us or hear us very often and we do not promote ourselves too much, but if you call on us and we need to come out and help you, we are there for you,” Dickson said.
Director Sheryl Armstrong suggested at the COW meeting the society look into federal government grants for gender inclusivity to help fund the washroom project.