The current Fernie Fire Hall has not been upgraded since it was built 34 years ago. File photo

City eliminates highway location for Fernie fire hall

City considers moving Fernie fire hall to downtown location

The Fernie fire hall is set to move two blocks away, to a larger site near downtown.

At the April 15 Committee of the Whole meeting, Fernie Council directed City staff to commission a study to review the feasibility of a mixed-use site at 902 2nd Avenue.

This was one of the four sites presented as potential development sites of the new fire hall, seen at the November 27, 2018 Special Meeting of Council.

The following sites were identified as options for a new site, narrowed down from eight original choices: 1500 5th Avenue, 902 2nd Avenue, 902 Highway 3 and 600 Highway 3.

These were later narrowed down to two preferred sites; Site 1 (902 2nd Avenue) and Site 8 (600 Highway 3). Site 8 was later eliminated.

“There was a fulsome review of Site 8, however, Council does not wish to pursue relocating the Rotary Park to build a firehall, thus, that option became eliminated,” said Mayor Ange Qualizza in an email to The Free Press.

A lack of space with no options for expansion is one of the reasons for the proposed replacement of the hall, which no longer meets industry standards, according to the feasibility study presented to Council in November.

The primary design concerns with the current site include: lack of on-site parking; lack of space to house more emergency vehicles; potential concerns in relation to public parking blocking the fire hall driveway; and extremely limited options in terms of future growth due to floor space already being maximized.

Additionally, there is no hose drying/training tower, the kitchen is undersized, not enough washrooms suitable for number of staff, and no gender-neutral solutions.

The building has not been upgraded since it was built 34 years ago and there are numerous building code issues. The new fire hall will also serve as an Emergency Operation Centre.

The study identified Site 1 as suitable to address many of the above issues. At 1.9 acres (0.76ha), the site is deemed to be an ideal size to build a new fire hall.

However, the study also identified two cons: the railway located at the rear of the site and access being primarily on 2nd Avenue.

The study identified Site 8, a 2.2-acre (0.89ha) lot, which currently houses Rotary Park, as another suitable option that addressed many of the above issues.

However, it also identified several cons: the site would require the redevelopment of a public park space, not much room for the future development of an archival storage area, and front door access for the public being at the rear end of the site.

To read the full breakdown of these sites, turn to page 143 in the November 27, 2018 Special Meeting of Council minutes, found online at Fernie.civicweb.net.

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