2012-12-03 at 22:42
Council picks West Frederica Street location for Westfort fire hall
Fire Chief John Hay (left) says replacing Neebing station and Brown Street station would reduce service levels for 7,000 residents and 2,500 households.
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The city is sticking with its plan to build a $1.5-million Westfort fire hall to replace the aging Brown Street station.
Council on Monday voted in favour of accepting administration’s recommendation to locate the facility on the corner of West Frederica Street and Neebing Avenue, but not before several councillors demanded the city take a sober second look in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Coun. Rebecca Johnson was loudest of the opposition group, saying it’s not the time to consider building two stations when one might suffice. Opponents wanted administration to consider amalgamating both the Brown Street and Neebing stations into one facility, a move led by Mayor Keith Hobbs.
“I don’t think we can afford to do this right now,” Johnson said.
“I don’t know how we’re going to keep spending on these things. I don’t know how much a fire hall costs. But the taxpayers are saying stop.”
Hobbs was less irate, but no more accepting of the idea.
“Personally I’m not happy with this site and I think we should be looking at amalgamation,” said Hobbs, who would have preferred a Rosslyn Road location.
Fire Chief John Hay said the new facilities, part of a $7-million plan to build two new stations and consolidate certain emergency medical services, has everything to do with response time and community service.
The goal, he said, is to have responders at calls within six minutes, and neither a single site nor council’s other option, a Gore Street and Neebing Avenue location would suffice.
“That would result in a net reduction of service to 7,000 people and 2,500 households,” Hay said. It would also mean longer response times for several neighbourhoods.
Hobbs said he wasn’t buying that argument.
“Personally, I think response times are overrated,” Hobbs said.
Brown Street station is 64 years old and cannot accommodate the size of modern fire engines and crew safety requirements. The city held public consultations on proposed hall location last year. The Gore Street location was rejected because the site did not allow for a drivethrough entrance to the station's garage, meaning firefighters would have to reverse on the street to park trucks.
The property chosen is already owned by the City of Thunder Bay.
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