Council supports new build for Fire Station 1

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St. Albert’s Village Transit Station on Gate Avenue could be re-purposed for a new fire hall if a rezoning of the station’s land is approved later this year.

The rezoning application is expected to come to council in the third quarter of 2018.

On Monday, city councillors agreed to support a new fire hall to replace Fire Station 1, which is approaching the end of its life cycle.

The fire station in question was originally constructed in 1962 and has been renovated three times. A rebuild of the station has been on hold since 2010.

“The current state of most of the building, and services such as roof, heating, plumbing and electrical, are well past their serviceable life,” said St. Albert Fire Chief Keven Lefebvre at Monday’s council meeting.

Lefebvre and deputy fire chief Darrel Bliss presented the results of a feasibility study to council as well as the proposal to change the scope of the fire hall’s reconstruction to have a new building constructed on Gate Avenue in 2020.

“The outcomes of the feasibility study are that the current site is too small for a modern fire hall, and that ongoing service delivery requirements … may not be achievable without significant additional costs while the current site is undergoing a major rebuild,” he said.

Prior to Monday’s council meeting, councillors were given a tour of the fire station.

Coun. Jacquie Hansen said the building was “very 1962ish,” with crumbling walls and leaks.

“I look forward to the public consultation and the feedback we receive there, and hopefully moving forward with this,” she said.

Coun. Natalie Joly said the age of the building is apparent.

“It’s not a great place for our guys to be working,” she said.

“It has been delayed over and over and it’s time for us to make a decision.”

The city already had just over $1 million set aside in 2018 to fund a design for the fire hall’s reconstruction. The repair, maintenance and replacement portion of the city’s 10-year capital plan will include $12.4 million in 2020 for construction of the new building.

Village Transit Station brings fire services closer to demand

The city plans to close Village Transit Station after the construction of the Campbell Road Park and Ride Transit Centre, and that land could become available in 2019 or 2020.

The size of the Village Transit Station site would allow a fire hall to grow as needed to 2050, and the new fire hall would have nearly twice the square footage of the current one.

Lefebvre told councillors the site would also provide better access to the southern and eastern areas of St. Albert without affecting response times to downtown or central St. Albert.

In order for the city to build on that site, it would need to be rezoned and public open houses would be held in the third quarter of 2018.

Coun. Sheena Hughes said she foresees some challenges in the fall when the rezoning application comes forward.

She said she has been hearing support from some transit users for keeping Village Transit Station open.

She suggested the city look into whether some of the extra land on the site could be used to keep transit services available.

Both Hughes and Coun. Ken MacKay said they would like to see possibilities for joint uses of the site.

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April Hudson

April is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette