Design plans for a new fire hall will be going ahead in 2017 despite the mayor cautioning the city to hold off.
During Tuesday’s session of financial plan deliberations, councillors approved allocating $225,000 to the 2017 budget for a preliminary fire station design despite hesitation from some of council.
A total of $264,899 was already approved by council for a site feasibility study in 2016 and will be carried over to the 2017 budget as the site review is not yet complete.
That concerned Mayor Andy Adams who questioned why the city would go ahead with design work for a site that has yet to be determined.
“I’m struggling a little bit in that we’re putting in money for a design before we’ve had a discussion on what the site will be,” Adams said.
What is known is that the No. 1 Fire Hall, which is located downtown on the corner of Dogwood Street and 13th Avenue, needs to be relocated.
The fire hall was built in 1978 and, according to a seismic risk analysis, would not survive the 4.3 earthquake it was designed to survive.
Because of its location, in the event of an earthquake, the basement would flood and the apparatus area would be under a metre of water.
Studies commissioned by the city have determined that the No.1 fire hall should be relocated somewhere between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue on or near Dogwood Street.
A study has been underway to relocate the fire hall to city property at 7th Avenue and Dogwood but Fire Chief Ian Baikie said the site review was delayed because of difficulties in getting “a study on the adjacent tower.”
Baikie said his intention is to have the site study complete by the end of the first quarter of 2017 and to have that go before council so that design work can begin shortly thereafter in preparation for putting the new fire hall concept before the public as a referendum question in 2018.
Adams, though, cautioned against putting a referendum question on the 2018 election ballot and suggested the city hold off on design work until 2018 when a clearer picture could be painted of what a new fire hall would look like.
Adams said there may be opportunities to build a multi-use facility that several emergency responders could utilize.
“I think what we have heard is some of the options (involve) incorporation of an emergency command centre with a number of services for disaster response,” he said.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield said Adams made a fair point and took a stab at putting off the design work.
“Your Worship, I understand where you’re going and I guess ideally we would wait and see where the site will be located before we go out and do a design,” Cornfield said.
Cornfield then put forward a motion to move the design work to 2018 but the motion fell off the table because no councillor seconded it.
With the motion falling off, the $225,000 will stay in the 2017 budget for the design phase of the fire hall relocation project.
Baikie said the design will aid council in making a decision on what the city requires in terms of an emergency operations centre/fire hall.