The former Meadowbrook school building now houses Purcell Preschool and the Kimberley Francophone School. Facebook photo

The former Meadowbrook school building now houses Purcell Preschool and the Kimberley Francophone School. Facebook photo

Concerns expressed around lack of fire protection at former Meadowbrook school building

The building currently houses the Kimberley Francophone School and Purcell Preschool

The City of Kimberley received a letter from Marie-Christine Cadieux, a parent of two children who attend the Kimberley Francophone School at the former Meadowbrook School, which is now leased by Purcell Preschool and Daycare. The French School shares the facility with the daycare.

In her letter, Cadieux described an incident that occurred on November 26, 2021, where students and staff had to evacuate the building because of a fire alarm.

The school and daycare students had to stand outside in their indoor shoes, with no jackets, while the school principal and rthe daycare manager inspected the building for threats, she says. Inspections revealed a furnace fire.

The incident, Cadieux said, revealed how long and how much coordination it takes to evacuate the building, given that it holds many children, some of whom are not yet walking.

Because the school is outside City of Kimberley limits, it does not have fire protection. The fact that the fire emergency department cannot reach this building is a huge concern for families, children and staff at Purcell Preschool and the Kimberley Francophone School, Cadieux said.

Coun. Sandra Roberts says she understands that the incident must have been scary for all involved.

“Folks out there (Meadowbrook) have chosen to say no to city fire protection. I don’t blame her for being concerned.”

Mayor Don McCormick said that in the past few years there have been several house fires in Meadowbrook but all that can happen is that the RCMP members go out and watch them burn. There have been four referendums on whether the city should provide fire protection to the rural area and each time it was voted down.

It was suggested that if the request came through the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the Kimberley Fire Department, or perhaps the RDEK fire marshall, could likely assist in the preparation of an emergency plan.

Reached after the meeting, Duncan MacLeod from Purcell Preschool said that he had contacted City CAO Scott Sommerville immediately after watching the council meeting.

He says safety planning is not the main issue, although such support would be welcome and appreciated.

“The primary issue is the facility itself and its vital importance to the community. Purcell Preschool + Daycare is the largest childcare facility in the Kimberley area. We currently serve 61 children and their families, 48 of whom are Kimberley residents/taxpayers. If the Meadowbrook School building burns down, most if not all of those families will be left without childcare and a staff of 10+ amazing early learning educators (most of whom live in Kimberley) will be left without jobs. As you are aware, our community is already facing a crisis-level lack of access to quality childcare. What you may not know is to what extent: to give you a glimpse, our current waitlists at Purcell Preschool + Daycare stand at 60 for our Pre-K cohorts and 89 for our Infant-Toddler cohort.

“If the City is willing and able to venture into Meadowbrook to proactively address wildfires in the best interest of the residents of Kimberley, I think a similar case can and should be made for it to do so for the Meadowbrook School building as well. Both the CSF school and Purcell Preschool + Daycare are important, if not vital, assets to the City of Kimberley and its residents, even if the facility they occupy is not within city limits.”