Pro­posed LaSalle fire­hall raises safety con­cerns

Windsor Star - - CITY + REGION - JULIE KOTSIS jkot­sis@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/JulieKot­sis

A pro­posed sec­ondary fire sta­tion in the heart of LaSalle’s heav­ily ur­ban­ized west side has raised con­cerns for some neigh­bour­hood res­i­dents over safety and the loss of com­mu­nity park space.

Chris Knight, whose Su­pe­rior Street home faces John Dupuis Park where the fire­hall would be built, said he chose to live in his quiet LaSalle neigh­bour­hood be­cause of the large park.

“That park is the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing. I’ve met five or six fam­i­lies there … and they’ve be­come the clos­est friends I have,” Knight said. “That to me is ex­actly what a neigh­bour­hood park should be about, the cen­tre of the com­mu­nity.

“That would be a big loss for the com­mu­nity.”

The town is look­ing at lo­cat­ing a sin­gle-en­gine sec­ondary sta­tion with a “much smaller foot­print than a tra­di­tional fire sta­tion” and a small com­mu­nity room on the west end of the park fac­ing Hazel Street, said LaSalle Fire Chief Dave Sutton.

Sutton said the mas­ter fire plan calls for two fu­ture fire sta­tions to ser­vice the town’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion — a sta­tion cen­trally lo­cated in the west and a head­quar­ter sta­tion cen­trally lo­cated in the east in the Lau­rier Park­way area to serve pro­posed res­i­den­tial growth and cur­rent neigh­bour­hoods such as Her­itage Es­tates.

The town moved its cur­rent fire­hall into a ren­o­vated pub­lic works build­ing a cou­ple of years ago when the mu­nic­i­pal civic cen­tre was re­built but Sutton said that was a short-term step.

“What we’re do­ing now is set­ting up part of that two-sta­tion model,” Sutton said of the pro­posed new hall. “A fu­ture head­quar­ter sta­tion a lit­tle fur­ther east of the Vollmer would pro­vide op­ti­mum cov­er­age in the four-kilo­me­tre re­sponse ar­eas through the whole mu­nic­i­pal­ity.”

A big fac­tor in choos­ing the site is its prox­im­ity and ease of ac­cess by the town’s paid on-call re­spon­ders, most of whom live in the area. This could im­prove emer­gency re­sponse times.

“It’s re­ally crit­i­cal to lo­cate the sta­tion in the area … where we have the ma­jor­ity of re­spon­ders for that area,” Sutton said. “That’s re­ally what’s driven some of the cri­te­ria and the rec­om­men­da­tions for this sta­tion.”

But Knight said the plan leaves a lot of unan­swered ques­tions in­clud­ing how the site was cho­sen, why other sites were elim­i­nated and how a fire­hall/com­mu­nity room will af­fect traf­fic lev­els.

“The fact that the town passed a re­ally strong parks and recre­ation plan and within two years they want to go back on that plan and take away park space is part of it

too,” Knight said.

“Ul­ti­mately … it’s dan­ger­ous. The fact that our heav­ily used park (is) full of chil­dren and now they want emer­gency ve­hi­cles and fast-mov­ing traf­fic in the area, it just bog­gles the mind.”

Sutton, who also lives in the neigh­bour­hood, said he had con­cerns about the safety of chil­dren in the area and in­creased noise lev­els but the site plan was de­vel­oped to ad­dress those is­sues.

It is the site of the for­mer Col. Bishop ele­men­tary school and a sub­se­quent com­mu­nity cen­tre that was de­mol­ished a num­ber of years ago.

Part of the rec­om­men­da­tion coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing in­cludes the re­con­struc­tion and up­grade of Hazel Street where all the traf­fic

to the hall and com­mu­nity room would travel.

“There wouldn’t be any in­creased traf­fic on mu­nic­i­pal side streets where the homes face,” Sutton said. “The whole con­cept of en­hanc­ing emer­gency re­sponse in the area should be a plus for most folks.”

As for the park area, he said the play struc­tures would move slightly east and the de­vel­oped area be­tween the two berms would be ba­si­cally the same size.

“There’s no in­ten­tion to de­stroy or elim­i­nate the park,” he said. “Ac­tu­ally the us­able park space will re­main ap­prox­i­mately the same as what’s there now.”

A pub­lic open house and in­for­ma­tion ses­sion is be­ing held May 31 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Civic Cen­tre, 5950 Malden Rd. The pro­posed site plan and con­cep­tual de­signs will be avail­able. There are also on the town’s web­site at lasalle.ca.

JA­SON KRYK

Chris Knight is con­cerned the pro­posed lo­ca­tion of a sec­ondary fire­hall in LaSalle will have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on Dupuis Park. A pub­lic open house on the mat­ter is set for May 31.

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