Mesachie Lake now has a solid foundation for the future of its fire service, thanks to a $350,000 grant to retrofit its aging fire hall and a number of donations for a replacement fire truck.
The approximately 90 residents of Mesachie Lake have been considering the future of their fire service since 2018, when it was determined significant investment would be required for the service to remain viable.
The fire hall required major structural and aesthetic upgrading, and the fire engine had reached the end of its life.
The residents were faced with a choice between two options; borrowing a significant amount of money with the cost borne by the small number of residents, or ceasing operation of the local fire department and amalgamating with the neighbouring community fire service in Honeymoon Bay.
With little time left to decide on a path forward, CVRD staff applied for a grant through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program in the hopes of covering at least some of the cost of a new fire hall, making the continuation of service a viable option.
Concurrently, a number of businesses and local organizations were solicited for potential contributions towards the purchase of the new fire engine.
“I’m incredibly proud to say we were successful on both counts, and we have the required funds to retrofit the fire hall and purchase the fire truck with no impact to the taxes of Mesachie Lake residents,” said Ian Morrison, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls.
“I want to thank everyone for working together on behalf of the community to make this happen.”
The new fire engine was purchased at a cost of $248,500 with contributions from the Teal Jones Group, Mosaic Forest Management, Northview Timber LTD, Pacific Marine Rescue Society, Gemini Falling Contracting and Tuck Brothers Contracting.
Over the last three years, the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department Review Group, made up of residents, firefighters, CVRD staff and Morrison, completed significant work towards rejuvenating the fire hall.
“Being faced with the task of determining the best option for our community was challenging,” said Dave Craft, co-chair of the review group.
“Mesachie Lake has maintained its own fire service since the community was established nearly 100 years ago, and it’s a source of pride for many of us to be self-sufficient when it comes to protecting our own properties and lives. I’m very proud of the diligent work our review group did in representing the needs of our community.”