West Hants' fire restructuring committee pushes forward with new members

Colin Chisholm colin.chisholm@tc.tc
Published on January 9, 2017

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WEST HANTS, N.S. - For the first time since the municipal election in October 2016, the fire restructuring committee convened, complete with all new councillors, to continue to look into new fire station(s) for West Hants.

Coun. Debbie Francis was elected as the chair of the committee on Jan. 9. West Hants Warden Abraham Zebian and Coun. David Keith are also new to the committee.

The initial deadline for a request for proposals (RFP) on Jan. 12 was extended to Jan. 19 to allow for more time for proposals to come in, according to municipal engineer Rick Sherrard.

“In discussions with engineering design build companies, they’ve asked for an extension because of the holidays. Folks were taking some time off,” Sherrard said. “We’ve extended the closing day by one week.”

A weighted scoring system will be used to determine the best design for a new station.

Design proposals will be mockups of two-bay and three-bay stations, including cost estimates, so the committee can weigh the costs and benefits.

Sherrard said the proposed buildings should hit a LEED silver benchmark in terms of energy efficiency.

Keith asked whether or not the building would have two bays or three, along with other details of the building design, including whether or not a concrete slab for a potential third bay was considered.

Sherrard said they will wait for the design proposals to come in.

Chief Administrative Officer Cathie Osborne said they would like to have at least a two-bay substation with drive-through ability, which would exceed the Stantec report recommendations.

The committee was struck soon after the Windsor Fire Department gave notice they would no longer cover areas outside the town limits, except for mutual aid, following a lengthy contract dispute with the Municipality of West Hants.

Since then, West Hants has been looking into options for covering the areas previously covered by the Windsor Fire Department.

A Stantec study recommended that a fire station or substation be located near Highway 101 exits 7 and 5, Falmouth and Garlands Crossing.

A property owned by the municipality on Highway 14 in Garlands Crossing was earmarked for a new substation by the previous council. A property has yet to be selected for a Falmouth station.

The committee will make a recommendation to council, which will vote on said recommendation. 

The next fire restructuring committee meeting will take place on Feb. 6, once the design proposals are in and municipal staff have had a chance to look over them.

Osborne suggested the committee meet sooner rather than later to bring the recommendation to council due to the potential impact on budget discussions.

“If we were to delay this until the budget discussions that would be a bad thing for construction,” Osborne said. “That gives us a chance to bring the recommendation to council by our next council meeting, Feb. 14.”