Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth

Kitimat Marine Rescue Society gets major funding boost

The Kitimat Marine Rescue Society (KMRS) is benefitting from a donation of $8,500 for each of three years.

The Kitimat Marine Rescue Society (KMRS) is benefitting from a donation of $8,500 for each of three years.

The money comes at an opportune time for KMRS, which is currently fundraising to purchase a new rescue boat to replace their current, open-air vessel.

The funding was announced by Seaspan, speaking on behalf of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. The Foundation is the “philanthropic arm” of the Washington Companies, and Seaspan is associated with that group.

The yearly $8,500 is part of a total $1.1 million commitment to three B.C. marine organizations; Sail and Life Training Society (SALTS), Vancouver Maritime Museum, and the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, which Kitimat’s rescue society falls under.

Seaspan CEO Jonathan Whitworth was in Kitimat recently to meet with KMRS and get an idea of the operation they run.

“We like to support any entity that is water related and has an affect on our own communities,” he said, referring to the fact Seaspan has a number of employees working around Kitimat and the Douglas Channel.

Meanwhile he said the marine situation in Kitimat isn’t peaking just yet, but once some of the area projects get approvals the traffic on the water will pick up.

“Once that goes ahead we can start looking at building new boats, be it escort tugs or docking vessels or additional vessels.”

He said that Seaspan already has a boat and some barges in the area already.

The donation of $8,500 a year for three years to KMRS means a sudden infusion of the equivalent of a third of their operating budget, said Duncan Peacock.

“Generally our operating budget for the year is under $30,000,” he said. “That’s as long as we’re not buying any capital equipment.”

“It takes quite a bit of pressure off as far as trying to raise funds,” he adds. “We can concentrate more on the training and the service we provide.”

Not just that, but it will help as KMRS works towards a fundraising goal of purchasing a new Snowflake Responder rescue vehicle.

The new boat, which is currently being built for them, is a Falkins class vessel, and comes with a $600,000 price tag. It will be an enclosed boat, and will eventually phase out their current responder, an open-air boat.

The group have already raised about $450,000

While the $8,500 a year boost might not directly go to purchasing the new boat, the money will certainly support it in some ways, added Peacock.