Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)

Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Construction of Nanaimo’s new fire station is on schedule and on budget thus far, says the city’s chief administrative officer.

At the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board meeting June 8, directors approved a plan to borrow more than $11 million from the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C. for the building, under a 20-year term. According to an RDN staff report, the city passed a bylaw in April authorizing borrowing of up to $17 million. Under provincial legislation, the city can’t borrow money, but must do so via the regional district.

Thus far, the city borrowed $3.2 million in 2018 and $2 million in 2020, the report said. Jake Rudolph, city chief administrative officer, said firefighters could begin occupying the Fitzwilliam/Milton Street complex as early as April 2022, as Capex Projects, which is managing the work, recently told the city work is “completely on track.”

Initially, a call centre was included in the project, but it was later announced that dispatch service would be contracted out to Surrey come the end of June. The space has been repurposed to a training room and a meeting space, Rudolph said.

”There were some savings, because we didn’t have to purchase the new dispatch equipment,” said Rudolph. “It’s been [taken] out of the budget and some of it’s been redeployed into the same room for multi-purposing, but there is a net savings on that component of the project … so we’re hoping that we’ll actually come in under budget, but the budget did include a contingency and this is added to that.”

Rudolph estimated savings from the equipment and technology centre was in the $500,000 range.

The current building will be demolished and serve as an exit area for firefighting vehicles, with space for parking on the side, Rudolph said.

“It’s going to be very helpful for them,” said Rudolph. “It’ll be front of the bays for the fire trucks. They currently do not have any space in front, or back of their building for the trucks, so this actually gives them space to pull out and do whatever they need to do.”

Chief Tim Doyle, of Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said he is looking forward to the new building and construction hasn’t hindered the department that much.

“That whole east side of the building … has all been semi-soundproofed in the sense that the thin areas of the building, windows and doors, have been filled in with insulation and foam,” said Doyle. “Quite honestly, the sound hasn’t been too big of an impact. It hasn’t disrupted us too much.”

Tyler Brown, Nanaimo city councillor and RDN board chairperson, said a new hall was needed as the current station is “dated” and mentioned that the fire hall would also be needed in certain kinds of disasters.

“We all hope disastrous events don’t happen, but if they do we want to make sure that our first responders are able to access their trucks and access their equipment, so it will be updated in that sense,” he said. “The new building will have everything that can accommodate a modern fire department.”

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