Boathouse plans not dead in water

Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society’s fundraising focus readjusted

Oak Bay Sea Rescue volunteers; driver Iain Lawrence

Oak Bay Sea Rescue volunteers; driver Iain Lawrence

It’ll be two years ago this July since Oak Bay Sea Rescue had its application for a bigger boathouse approved.

Yet, at the far end of the docks at Oak Bay Marina, where OBSR bases its operation, visitors find the same old metal structure that’s been floating there for years.

“An upgraded safety feature – shock-absorbing seats to reduce injuries – was required on our new vessel, and we found ourselves needing to quickly come up with extra funds,” said Terry Calveley, president of the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society.

The safety changes were mandated by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“We secured the necessary approvals from our primary funder to transfer a portion of the boathouse funding to this requirement.”

Most of the wholly volunteer organization’s funding comes from provincial gaming grants. Two years ago, the society had all the pieces in place, including the necessary money – about $80,000 – to go ahead with the new boathouse.

“Last year, we did some work with them on getting an application in place with the marina, and nothing has happened (since),” said Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton.

Marina owner Bob Wright of Oak Bay Marine Group said he hasn’t heard a breath about that so-desired new boathouse in a year, either.

In that time, the society not only upgraded its new vessel, it refitted an older boat to use for its junior program, where volunteers train teens age 13 to 18 in sea rescue operations (although teens don’t actually go out on rescue missions).

Calveley said OBSR has a funding pot that will be dedicated to building the new boathouse and that the organization is still working toward that end.

“Our boathouse committee continues to work actively on this, which includes development of the final designs and plans, and ultimately moving onto the building phase – something our volunteers are very excited to see happen.”

As yet, no timelines have been pinned down.

“We’ve had tough decisions to make,” she said. “That second vessel is a very, very big part of what we are today. We had big decisions to make last year and we’re confident in the decisions we made.”

Oak Bay Sea Rescue volunteers are on call 24-7, doing rescue and aid missions on the south Island’s east coast, from Oak Bay, through Saanich and almost all the way to Sidney.

“Our major initiative and focus continues to be our boathouse replacement,” Calveley said. “Before any boathouse is built, we will be launching into focused fundraising. A final amount is not yet determined, and will become more clear as we delve into the next phase of the project.”

To learn more about Oak Bay Sea Rescue, visit There are several ways to donate, listed at