For land-based response, Oak Bay relies on its fire department but for marine response, the Oak Bay Sea Rescue team of volunteers are a lifeline for the local boating community.
That’s why the Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation has chosen to support them with proceeds from this year’s Sausage Fest, taking place on Saturday, June 22, from noon until 9 p.m. at Willows Beach.
“When it comes to marine response Oak Bay Sea Rescue are it, and they’re a volunteer-based organization, so it’s an easy decision for us to support them,” said Jason Hodge, executive director of Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation.
Technically, Oak Bay Sea Rescue isn’t the only responder in the area but they are the go-to, and it would cost millions to replace the program (the RCMP, Coast Guard, and Oak Bay Fire Department also assist in offshore service). It remains at Oak Bay Marina where it started in 1977 when the late Bob Wright banded together with others, using their own boats, to create a marine rescue service. The marina provided the space at no cost and today the Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society remains a volunteer-run entity that is completely funded by grants and donations.
“It’s expensive to run the program, the boats and engines last about 10 years,” said secretary Cathy Stephenson. “We rely on community donations like Sausage Fest to keep our program going.”
They recently finished fundraising for a new $450,000 rescue boat that won’t be ordered until later this summer and will arrive part way through 2020. They also just finished purchasing a pair of engines for the current boat at $25,000 each.
The team also added a set of dry suits to the inventory this year.
Throughout the day all 26 members of the Oak Bay fire hall will station themselves at barbecues to cook at this year’s Sausage Fest. Meat comes from Oak Bay businesses including The Village Butcher, Slater’s Meats, Whole Beast and Red Barn with a vegan option from The Very Good Butcher in the Public Market at the Hudson.
Lighthouse will provide craft beer and cider will also be available. There is a bouncy castle, face painting, and other activities offered.
The Oak Bay Firefighters Charitable Foundation donates to a variety of causes including bursaries for Oak Bay High students and to the B.C. Professional Firefighters Burn Fund. In recent years Sausage Fest has helped fund Monterey middle school’s new playground equipment.