A fire station No. 1 rebuild can now claim public support.
An alternative approval process that took place this past month concluded May 4 and produced 783 elector response forms, far short of the 6,842 that would have been required to stall a borrowing bylaw.
“On the basis of the elector response forms received before the deadline, I have determined and hereby certify that elector approval in accordance with … the Community Charter has been obtained,” noted Sheila Gurrie, city clerk and corporate officer, in a document reporting AAP results Monday.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief Karen Fry said she recognizes there are nearly 800 individuals who have concerns, but suggested the results of the AAP process are an indication of support for the fire hall replacement project.
“For public safety, we’re pretty excited that we can look forward to rebuilding fire station No. 1,” she said.
The alternative approval process asked citizens if they support the City of Nanaimo moving ahead with up to $17 million in borrowing, allowing for a rebuild of the fire station at its current location on Fitzwilliam Street.
Fry said the building needs seismic upgrades and there are other deficiencies with mechanical systems, boiler repairs and such.
“It’s one of those things, we can always continually fix things as they break, but at some [point] – and based on what council’s decision was, they made that decision that it’s time that they rebuild it,” she said.
She said she’s heard a lot of questions about the cost of the project considering that there are no designs yet, but said the $17-million figure was put forward by a consultant based on square footage and comparable projects.
“[We’re] not building a Cadillac, but building something that’s functional and meets the needs and requirements of the city,” she said.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue will be “heavily involved” as the fire station project moves forward, Fry said. A project management consulting firm is helping “deliver and help design all of the project templates so that we can stay on task, on budget and on scope with this project,” but her department knows a lot about how the building needs to function, the fire chief said.
She said there will be continued opportunities for public input as an advisory group of stakeholders, the city’s public safety committee and other community partners will be consulted.
Before construction starts, Fry suggested there will be risk assessments and planning to ensure that temporary facilities are fully functional during the rebuild.
“There’s going to be some logistical items that we’re going to have to work through, but with proper planning … we’ll do our best to still be within our quickest response times and be there for the community.”
City council still needs to pass the borrowing bylaw before the project can move ahead.