The current downtown fire hall is too small to house the city’s ladder truck. Bulletin file

The current downtown fire hall is too small to house the city’s ladder truck. Bulletin file

City pulls plug on grant application for new fire truck bays

Council decides to try again on civic centre slab and boards application

Fire Chief Rick Prasad came to council on June 27, 2022 to ask for support for a grant application in the amount $2,098.444 to build new fire truck bays in the parking lot beside city hall, and left seeing council deciding to use the grant application to apply for new boards and slab at the Civic Centre instead.

It was a somewhat unusual situation as the grant opportunity through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) came up rather suddenly.

The question then became who had a project where enough work had been accomplished that a grant application could be put together quickly as the deadline was June 30, 2022. The answer appeared to be the fire department.

There has been discussion about new truck bays as the current fire hall within city hall is small and cannot house the ladder truck.

It is the belief of Chief Prasad that the ladder truck should be housed at the downtown station, as it is most likely to be used in the city centre or resort area.

READ: City of Kimberley issues RFP for feasibility study for new fire bays next to city hall

He said they hadn’t fully ironed out how building the new bays would impact parking.

“It would result in the loss of about 14 parking spaces,” he said.

“I am struggling with what I consider an ad hoc design,” said Coun. Jason McBain. “We have only a couple of things ready to go when roads, bridges and a whole lot of other things require attention. We should be more proactive and have things ready to go.”

Coun. Nigel Kitto said he was concerned with spending $2 million when the additional truck bays were really only a stop gap. A modern, separate fire hall/emergency services building was really what was required, he said.

Coun. Darryl Oakley agreed. “I would rather see a long range plan,” he said. “I appreciate what you (Prasad) have done but I’m not supporting the resolution.”

Mayor Don McCormick said that previous conversations around the fire bays had been about the need for a long range facility plan.

Prasad said that downtown at city hall is where the fire hall should be, and it could involve moving city hall to another location such as the Health Centre. But he said costs on building projects like that are going crazy. A recent build in Vancouver, he says, went from a $17 million project to $36 million at completion.

He said building the truck bays now with the potential of adding on a few offices could be a 10 to 15 year solution.

“The only reason it’s a solution is because the grant is available,” McCormick said.

City CAO Scott Sommerville said that in terms of applying for the grant it was a toss up between something from Parks and Recreation or the fire hall.

“The time to apply is now,” he said. “The ladder truck in Marysville does no good. Building heights are going up. There are a hundred other things we could do, but this was shovel ready.”

McCormick said that council really needed more data before they could make a decision. The request for the grant for new fire bays was voted down, unanimously.

Prasad said a more long range facility plan for the fire department should be ready by the end of September.

Sommerville said he hated to pass up a grant opportunity, and suggested the city could make another attempt at a grant to replace the slab and boards at the Civic Centre. Two previous applications for that work have been turned down.

READ: Grant application for Civic Centre board and slab replacement unsuccessful

“I do believe that eventually a strategic plan for the fire hall will happen,” McCormick said. “The civic centre work has to be done, even if we don’t get a grant it has to go forward.”

Manager of Parks and Facilities Nicole Halasz suggested applying for the full $6 million available for work at the civic centre.

“Respectfully, that won’t happen by Thursday (when the grant application is due),” Sommerville said.He said staff would get to work on the application and report back to council on what exactly they applied for.

“Whatever can be done over the next few days,” McCormick said.

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carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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