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Chilliwack Search and Rescue raising funds for new building

They’ve outgrown their existing 5th Avenue building and badly need an upgraded space
A drawing of a new building for Chilliwack Search and Rescue

Chilliwack Search and Rescue has outgrown its current building and is hoping to build a new one, with help from the community. The organization produced a video that has been posted to YouTube, talking about who they are, what they do and why they need a new home.

“In 1992 we did around 30 calls a year and had one rescue truck,” Chilliwack SAR’s Greg Unruh said in the video. “Now we’re doing 80 to 100 calls a year. We are simply outgrowing our current location.”

According to Chilliwack SAR’s Tom Pearson, the overall budget for the first phase of the building is $3-million. The City of Chilliwack is letting the non-profit use the land on 5th Avenue that their current building is on.

“Given the lack of availability of alternative sites and the astronomical increase in commercial land costs, this was essential to making this project a possibility,” Pearson said.

The current building is definitely cramped, and sometimes that hampers Chilliwack SAR’s response times.

“If there’s certain members that show up early, they might need to move out the boat to get at the rafts or get the trailer out,” said Chilliwack SAR member Ellen Dyck. “It inhibits us from responding as quick as we would like to.”

Phase one includes office/meeting/command space plus five drive-through bays where the trailer, for example, can come in one side of the building and exit through the other, with no need to get rafts or other equipment out of the way. Right now, members go to Chilliwack City Hall for month-end meetings. Their new home will have plenty of space to accommodate large gatherings and training seminars.

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Chilliwack’s Gerry Enns Contracting is handling the design and construction and the video includes drawings of the new building. Pearson said they’ll be aiming to use as many local suppliers as possible.

The City is also chipping in $1-million.

“It is our pleasure to be able to provide $1 million towards Chilliwack Search and Rescue’s new building project,” said Chilliwack mayor Ken Popove. “Chilliwack City Council is grateful for the time and effort these volunteers put in to keeping residents and visitors of the region safe and we look forward to seeing their new building become a reality.”

Chilliwack SAR has been socking away money for the last 15 years and has $1-million of its own funds to use right now.

“This leaves us with a fundraising target of $1 million, which is what we are about to launch into a campaign to try and raise,” Pearson noted. “Ideally before July of this year as the build is planned to start in September.

“We don’t necessarily need all of the funds before starting the project as the build will be around nine months. We will reassess in June following the initial campaign and see whether a fundraising event is needed.”

The organization is a not-for-profit society with 42 members, plus five who are currently in training. All of them are volunteers who are on call 24/7.

Chilliwack SAR provides ground, lake and river, swift water and helicopter long line rescue along with avalanche response, technical rope rescue and recoveries.

For more on the building project, visit


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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