Rescue team launches civil lawsuit, alleges misleading fundraising by B.C. group

B.C. rescue team goes to court over fundraising

VANCOUVER — A Vancouver-area search and rescue team has launched legal action against a society it alleges is raising funds by claiming to act on behalf of volunteer search teams across British Columbia.

North Shore Rescue has filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court seeking unspecified damages and an immediate halt to the fundraising activities of the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia.

A statement of defence has not been filed in court, but the vice-president of the Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia said he is “dumbfounded” by the legal action and the case has no merit.

“We do act in good faith, we are real,” Glen Redden said in an interview.

The search and rescue society is a registered charity that has been around for 33 years, and provides a last option for families when other searches have been called off, Redden said.

North Shore Rescue alleges in a statement of claim filed with the court that the society seeks public donations by claiming to represent the organization, adding that search-and-rescue teams do not raise money by phone in B.C.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Redden said his group raises money by phone because it does not receive any government funding, but calls are only made to donor lists. The society hires contractors to make the fundraising calls, but they never claim to represent any other group, he said.

“We don’t misrepresent. We clearly identify ourselves. We don’t mention any other team.”

Court documents filed by North Shore Rescue allege that the society disrupts its fundraising.

Redden said he is concerned how the lawsuit will impact his organization.

“It appears our reputation has been significantly damaged. And we hope that’s not the case and we hope the people of British Columbia recognize the value in what we do,” he said.

The Canadian Press