Long-awaited new fire hall gets CVRD funding approval

The decades-long process of building a new fire hall for North Oyster took a big step forward last week, when the Cowichan Valley Regional District board approved spending of $1,025,000 for the project.

That doesn’t mean shovels will be going into the ground tomorrow, cautioned North Oyster Director Mary Marcotte.

"It’s not going to be anything immediate," she said, relating that plans that have been drawn up need to be updated and there are other elements to be put in place. Work will not commence at least until the new year, she said.

"We haven’t started working until we know that we’ve got the funding," Marcotte explained.

It’s been a long haul to get to this point, she said. The need for a new hall has been simmering since she was first elected in 1996.

"The hall is very old," Marcotte said, and lacks proper seismic structuring, adequate space and both interior and exterior materials that are just worn out.

What it boils down to is a lot of stuff that can’t be repaired, she explained.

The problems with the hall were brought into sharp focus recently when there was a wildfire in the area that brought help from eight departments.

"I felt kind of bad for them to tell you the truth because when they got a break from fighting the fire really they came back to the hall…most places would have a place where you could have a shower and maybe rest a bit before you have to go back on scene and we couldn’t provide that," she said.

But the wheels are now turning, she assured.

"We just have to be patient," Marcotte summed up.