$1.48 million build
West Hants council gives green light to Garlands Crossing fire substation
Despite not knowing how - or if - the Windsor Fire Department will be involved in a regional fire service with West Hants, council has approved building a fire substation for the Three Mile Plains area.
On Feb. 14, seven of 10 councillors voted to approve spending about $ 1.48 million to construct a two- bay, double- deep, drive- through fire substation on municipally- owned land.
“Our Station 2 members are very ecstatic to get the word that the new fire station is going to be built. It’s a great morale booster. It’s going to be great for the citizens of West Hants,” said Brooklyn fire chief Andy McDade.
The station will be located near Exit 5 off Highway 101.
“It’s central to the portion that Brooklyn has taken over,” said McDade of the territory that the BFD gained when the fire service contract between the municipality and Windsor Fire Department was severed in 2015.
“It’s got very good access to the 101, which gives us great accessibility to St. Croix, to Falmouth, to downtown Windsor, to Hantsport. It takes us out of the main flow of traffic of having to respond through Windsor to get to Falmouth and whatnot,” McDade said.
Compared to the temporary substation, located on leased property on Tonge Hill Road, the new building should have ample room to move around in.
“There’s always the chance of an accident happening,” said McDade of the current substation .
“So far we’ve been lucky to get away with very minimal damages. We’ve had just a little bump here or there but we haven’t had any major accidents, which is the main thing.”
Station 2’ s deputy fire chief Wayne Swinimer had lobbied West Hants’ fire restructuring committee to propose a three- bay drive- through station, as it would give more room for training and storage. The committee opted for two bays instead.
“Our members are pleased with what they’re getting but I couldn’t say everybody is happy,” said Swinimer.
“The station is going to be filled before it’s built. Not that I want to see a building bigger so they can buy more equipment and fill it. That wasn’t my intent. It would be nice to have that extra space,” he said, noting that there will be four trucks at the new site – taking up all of the bays.
“In the wintertime, this is the kind of weather when you want to do some training inside.”
The goal is to have the location operational by the end of October, when the lease on the temporary fire substation expires.
Coun. Randy Hussey raised several questions during the Feb. 14 discussion, most of which remained unanswered or were delayed meeting.
“When are we going to stop spending money on this? We’re into the millions of dollars. Do we actually need the fire station there? Can we find a suitable location until something can be worked out for the regional fire service?” asked Hussey.
“It’s $ 1.5 million that we’re spending simply because people can’t get along and you’re asking our constituents to pay for a new fire station because of personality conflicts.”
Hussey also questioned how much the new service is costing the municipality, especially since the fire departments are sending upwards of seven to nine trucks to a scene due to an automatic aid protocol.
Hussey said nine trucks responded to a recent fire call in Falmouth, and seven for a single- vehicle accident on Chester Road. to another
“This is a lot of manpower, a lot of time for volunteers who are going to get worn out. It’s a lot of maintenance. It’s a lot of fuel. It’s a lot of money. We’re going to end up paying for it.”
The other item he wanted addressed was that of a paid position at the Brooklyn station.
Cathie Osborne, West Hants’ chief administrative officer, said his questions are operational and should be addressed to the fire chiefs at budget deliberations.
“If council has any concerns about their observations or what they’ve heard, I encourage you to ask the fire departments to explain their operational practices and if you’re not comfortable, you can choose not to fund it to the level they might want it,” said Osborne.
She did confirm that Brooklyn has a full- time employee and Station 2 has a part- time person. Those positions were approved by the previouslyelected council. Paying Windsor’s fire chief was a sticking point with the former West Hants council.
“Generally the support for that ( position) is that they are there to do both custodial as well as they’re qualified to take a vehicle and respond — be the first on call with a truck. So there is some advantage to the municipality being able to meet the short time frames that we need to meet in the rural environment,” said Osborne.
“Whether or not council wishes to continue to fund that or fund it to a different level, again, that’ll come back to you through the budget process.”
Rick Sherrad, the municipal engineer, said a decision was needed by March in order to finish the project by the October deadline.
Coun. Kathy Monroe asked council to consider holding off until March so they could learn more about how a regional fire service could work by having the Windsor Fire Department back in the mix. Instead, council put the item to a vote. Hussey, Monroe and Rupert Jannasch voted in opposition.
The tender was awarded to Roscoe Development.