A geotechnical study is being conducted on this property in Garlands Crossing to determine the best location for a new fire station.
GARLANDS CROSSING – Consultants have determined the best spot to build a fire substation on municipally-owned land in Three Mile Plains.
Now, it's up for West Hants council to vote on the recommendation.
During a fire restructuring committee meeting Sept. 7, West Hants' municipal engineer Rick Sherrard said he received the final draft report from Stantec Consulting Limited on Sept. 2. The report not only provided an analysis of the entire parcel of land, but a conceptual design for the proposed station.
“Staff need to work through several portions of the report before we're in a position to present it to municipal council in its entirety,” said Sherrard.
“We are quite comfortable with the basic and general findings of the report.”
The committee learned that the report – which is deemed confidential – says there are no at-risk or endangered plant species located at the site. There was one “anomalous cavity” discovered, but municipal staff were already aware of it.
“From an engineering perspective, they're making several recommendations that need to be revisited if and when there's any potential development beyond a fire station,” said Sherrard of the property, noting they would have to upgrade the water main to an eight inch pipe from six inches.
Sherrard said there was a “substantial overburden throughout the whole site,” which he said means that there are upwards of five metres of dirt before bedrock is reached.
“Actually, they only hit bedrock in one of 10 test pits. The rest, they went down 16 feet and it's still dirt,” he said of the property, noting with that type of soil, “if you work on it or in it during rainy season or in frosty conditions, it turns to mush.”
It's proposed that the fire station be built on the flat section of land near the Oultons Fuels property and Highway 14.
“We do have some challenges in future development but not with the location of the fire station,” said Chief Administrative Officer Cathie Osborne.
She said Stantec used the footprint of the recently built two-bay station in the Barrington, Port La Tour area as a basis for the substation in Garlands Crossing. They took Brooklyn's site plans into consideration as well.
Looking to the future
“Any concerns that I have, and that I heard from the planning department, don't deal with the location of the fire station. It deals with future potential development of the rest of the land,” said Sherrard.
Committee member Coun. Greg Miller questioned why they would move forward with building a fire substation if council doesn't have a clear vision for how the 14-acre property will be developed.
“I think we should be really knowing what we're going to be doing with the whole piece of land before we move ahead,” he said, to which the deputy warden, Gary Cochrane, said it could take 20 years to develop it.
The CAO said constructing the fire substation where they're recommending wouldn't have a negative impact on whatever they choose to do with the site in the future.
What about Falmouth?
When the fire restructuring committee was formed, their mandate was to do the legwork so that one or two fire substations could be built. A consultant's report determined two substations were needed – one in Garlands Crossing, and the other in Falmouth.
Much of the talk at the committee level has focused on Garlands Crossing. On Sept. 7, Miller wanted to know what work has been done to secure a site in Falmouth
“We're still working on finding suitable land,” said Osborne, noting one site they were considering didn't work out.
“We are in discussions with another property owner and trying to find an effective and cheaper way to acquire the land because that land, we would have to buy. We're still not in a position where we can speak to that,” said Osborne.
A question of cost
Miller then pushed for a chance to sit down and crunch the numbers before council forges ahead with construction.
“Now that we have some relatively firm numbers of what this is going to cost, when do we sit down and put this all together and say it's a better deal or it's more expensive?” Miller asked.
Warden Richard Dauphinee, who sits on the committee, said he feels they will come out ahead since severing ties with the Windsor Fire Department in 2015 to create their own fire service. He said the WFD was due to replace their station anyway so they would've had to help pay for that, and, now they own their own equipment.
“After the Edgehill Estates fire and everybody working together, I think this will work just fine. And I think, cost-wise, it will work fine also,” said Dauphinee.
Miller was the lone person to vote against the motion to recommend to council the location for the new substation. Before doing so, he noted: “I don't know how we can just rush forward with one if the whole idea was to save money. We don't know if we're saving money.”
Council is set to review and vote on the committee's recommendation Sept. 13.
Stay tuned for a story on the conceptual design of the new station.