The Municipality of North Cowichan wants to replace the aging Crofton fire hall. (File photo)

The Municipality of North Cowichan wants to replace the aging Crofton fire hall. (File photo)

New $3.8-million fire hall considered for Crofton

North Cowichan will have to seek electoral assent for project

Taxpayers in North Cowichan may be asked to participate in the second alternative approval process within a year as the municipality looks to long-term borrowing to replace the aging Crofton fire hall.

At the council meeting on Nov. 18, council members voted to ask North Cowichan voters through electoral assent, which is proposed to be in the form of an AAP, to borrow $3.5 million over 20 years to build a new fire hall, with an annual payment of $200,000.

An AAP requires that 10 per cent or more of the eligible voters in a municipality must sign and submit response forms in opposition to the project to stop the borrowing process from proceeding.

If 10 per cent of voters sign forms in opposition to a project, the municipality would then have to choose to either hold a full referendum within 80 days, or council may put a project on hold and consider alternatives.

In an AAP held last July that asked North Cowichan voters to back the municipality’s plan to borrow $48 million to build a new RCMP detachment, just 4.6 per cent of eligible voters in North Cowichan opposed the project, allowing it to proceed.

RELATED STORY: NOT ENOUGH OPPOSITION TO HALT NEW COWICHAN RCMP DETACHMENT BORROWING

The project in Crofton calls for the demolition of the original fire fall, built in 1964, and replacing it with a smaller 2,150 square-foot addition, as well as associated upgrades to the truck bays that were added to the facility in 2002.

A staff report said that over the past few years, several studies of the Crofton fire hall were completed to identify the facility’s deficiencies and recommend long-term options.

An assessment conducted in 2018 stated that $1.25 million in repairs and upgrades would be needed within the next 10 years.

In 2019, a detailed seismic assessment of the hall was completed, which recommended at least $900,000 of seismic upgrades.

The seismic study also recommended further review of the second-floor addition to the structure, which was added sometime after the construction of the building with no permits.

A floor-load rating study undertaken last year found the second floor to be unsafe for the existing loads.

This resulted in the second floor being closed, and it was determined that to make all the necessary repairs to bring the second floor into compliance, and then still have to do all the seismic work, was not economically feasible.

As a result, the fire hall has been without an assembly space for practices and training since August, 2019.

Last month, a feasibility study was completed to determine the best course of action, and recommended either replacing or extensively upgrading the existing structure.

RELATED STORY: CROFTON FIRE CHIEF RECOUNTS DETAILS OF MAPLE MOUNTAIN WILDFIRE

At the council meeting on Nov. 18, Mayor Al Seibring asked staff how definitive the $3.5-million projected cost of the new fire hall is.

He said the original estimate of the new RCMP building when it was first proposed years ago was approximately $20 million, but rose to $48 million when it was finally approved through the AAP.

CAO Ted Swabey said it’s too early to give more accurate cost projections of the project until more work and studies on building the new fire hall are completed.

“But construction costs are going up as we speak,” he said.

A discussion was held among council members wondering if it would be possible to add affordable housing units, or some other purpose like a child day care, above the new fire hall that could be covered by grants from senior levels of government.

But Finance Director Mark Frame said the fire hall site is small, so there are only limited options for additional usage of the property.

“It would also delay construction of the new fire hall by up to 18 months, and we may not get a grant [for the additional projects],” he said.

“I also wouldn’t want to see the firemen having to continue to practice outside for another 18 months.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

municipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Danielle Groenendijk raised more than twice her goal for Parkinson’s Canada. (Photo submitted)
VIU volleyball athlete doubles fundraising goal for Parkinson’s

Daily runs over 30 days by Groenendijk add up to 254 kilometres

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New street signs in Duncan in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional native names on signs

Possible COVID-19 exposures may have occurred at Alexander Elementary School on Jan. 13, 14 and 15. (Google Maps)
Alexander Elementary in Duncan announces possible COVID-19 exposures

Exposures may have occurred on Jan. 13, 14 and 15

North Cowichan to add three more off-leash dog areas in the new year. (File photo)
North Cowichan adds three new off-leash areas

Trial program runs through 2021, but not the summer months

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read