A BC Day long weekend event featuring food trucks and a vehicle extrication demonstration at Sunshine Valley provided a much-needed injection of funds to the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
The department, which is entirely volunteer-driven and funded by a combination of gaming grants, resident dues and local fundraising, has been financially struggling since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing restrictions on gathering said fire chief Chris Terry. The weekend event combined food trucks, a vehicle extrication demonstration, firefighter games for kids and a fire truck drive through of the community, netting the volunteer force around $1,500 in donations.
“It really brought the community together, the campground here was full so there was a lot of participation from them as well,” Terry said, who added he tried a little bit of every food truck’s fare with highlights being Malaysian satay and grilled cheese sandwiches – “you have to try it to believe it…I didn’t think you could make a grilled cheese sandwich taste so good,” he enthused.
There were also firefighter-themed kids games – such as spraying water and knocking cones over – and a fire truck toured the area with horns blaring and sirens wailing. The extrication, a vehicle on top of another with a ‘person’ trapped in between the two, was a demonstration of a potential event that the fire department which lies along Highway 3 would and does respond to.
These funds, as well as the huge amount of bottle recycling the volunteer department does, are much needed as most fundraising events such as music bingo and Legion meat draws have been “kaiboshed since March” Terry said.
Due to shortfalls the department has had to stop equipment purchases since March, he said, instead spending funds on operating expenses. Luckily the department had a good supply of personal protective equipment before the pandemic, which means they didn’t have to spend their monies on this.
What will happen with a gaming grant that the department relies on is unclear, Terry said.
“It looks though emergency services could be at the end of the funding stream, instead of being at the beginning,” he said. “Instead, they’ll be looking after COVID-related groups, but not maybe the ones that are doing the emergency stuff.”
The awarding of the grant, which usually comes in November, could be delayed until the end of February. And how much the department could get is up in the air as well, Terry added. The grant, which was $74,000 last year and $30,000 the year prior, makes up around 70 per cent of the department’s annual budget.
Yet a bright spot has been the Sunshine Valley community, Terry said, some of whom have stepped up to pay double their dues to the department and others who have decided to match funds. And everyone, even Hope residents, seems to be gathering cans and bottles for the department’s drives down to the Agassiz bottle depot.
Terry said a pig roast is planned for the Saturday of this September long weekend along with at least one food truck, with details to follow.
Even with COVID-19 keeping residents close to home, Terry said the 16-member department has been quite busy with a dozen calls over the past few months.
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