Powell River city council approves firehall study

City works yard the preferred site for committee

City of Powell River Council will retain Johnston Davidson Architecture and Planning Inc. to provide a secondary firehall site option at the Powell River works yard.

At the July 2 city council meeting, councillors reviewed considering another potential site for the new firehall. While a site on Barnet Street adjacent to the RCMP detachment office had initially been favoured as the site for the new facility, the committee looking into the new firehall had identified the city works yard on Duncan Street as a favourable site instead.

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Councillor Maggie Hathaway, chair of the emergency services facility select advisory committee, said she wanted to comment that there seemed to be some confusion in the Peak’s website chatter about the new firehall. She said the city was not looking at building two firehalls. She said Barnet Street was an excellent location but may have environmental issues.

“We went through every single place that was suggested and they are all city-owned properties, so that was the limitation there, and the works yard came up as a secondary site,” said Hathaway. “In order to do a proper evaluation, we need to have the same amount of work done on that site as was done on the Barnet Street site, so the motion is just asking for the funding to do the architectural work.”

According to a report from director of fire and emergency services Terry Peters, the proposal from Johnston Davidson Architects is $8,500 plus disbursements, if applicable.

Councillor George Doubt said he thinks it is a good idea to do some due diligence. He said he has been following the committee’s activities by reading the minutes and paying attention to what they are doing. He said the committee has been working hard on its objectives.

“I notice in one of the sets of minutes the committee has passed a motion recognizing that a new firehall is necessary,” said Doubt. He asked Hathaway if she had any comments about how the progress is going.

Hathaway said the committee first considered a motion that the current firehall was just simply inadequate.

“We did get lots of input on that and we have some excellent professionals on the committee so they have a lot more knowledge than I do in that area,” said Hathaway. “We eventually got that the current firehall is simply inadequate and should not be upgraded to meet the standards.

“Then we moved on and did a review of the Barnet Street site, which council had recommended as the preferred site. But the committee, after reviewing all of the sites, made a motion to make the works yard a preferred site. That’s where we are at right now.”

She said if the motion before council passed, the architects would come and do a site visit.

“We hope to have a face-to-face with them and ask them questions about the space,” said Hathaway. “We hear comments like ‘why do we need the Taj Mahal?’ We are not building the Taj Mahal. What has been proposed is industry standard. It’s nothing amazing or bigger than it should be.”

Hathaway said the committee wants to go step-by-step with the architects and ask some specific questions with a view toward trying to reduce the cost.

Peters said if the works yard property proves to be the most suitable, there will be more studies needed. He said there will also be environmental and riparian studies required.

Hathaway said the committee would have to come back to council with requests for funding to do those studies.

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