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West Hants fire committee recommending $1.48 million substation


WEST HANTS, N.S. — West Hants' fire restructuring committee is recommending that council approve building a two-bay drive-through fire substation in Garlands Crossing.

A geotechnical study was conducted on this municipally-owned property in Garlands Crossing that determined the best location to place a new fire substation.

The construction carries a price tag of $1,477,790.

Warden Abraham Zebian, who sits on the committee, made the motion Feb. 6 after reading a report prepared by municipal engineer Rick Sherrard.

The report, which is not yet a public document, outlines the conceptual design of the new substation and the costs involved with constructing it.

The proposal would see the substation built on municipal-owned land, which was purchased by the previous council for $500,000 – substantially over the appraised value.

The substation would remain under the operation of the Brooklyn Fire Department.

The original study that was done on the location and size of the buildings was based on our growth model and predicted future,” said Chief Administrative Officer Cathie Osborne to the committee, which is comprised of new councillors and fire officers from Brooklyn and Hantsport.

The initial study recommended two bays, with the option of adding a third bay. Osborne said their proposal is double what was required for the area.

Throughout the meeting, they questioned increasing the size to create a three-bay drive-through station since it would only add about $110,000 to the total cost. Coun. David Keith and Zebian both asked several questions relating to this.

“If you add the third bay, even though it seems to be economically feasible, you are overbuilding this substation by three times,” advised Osborne. “The question again is, is this a stand alone fire station or is this a substation? The recommendation is this is a substation.”

Deputy Fire Chief Wayne Swinimer, who is with Brooklyn's substation in Garlands Crossing, spoke in favour of building the larger substation.

“We've got three trucks right now that's squeezed in to two bays,” said Swinimer of the temporary substation located on Tonge Hill Road. The lease on that building expires in the fall of this year.

He said once they move a truck from Brooklyn to the new substation, it's going to be too crowded.

“That station is going to be full before it's built,” he said.

The CAO pointed out the temporary substation “was a 'the best we could do at the time' decision.” It was required after West Hants council severed ties with the Windsor Fire Department and asked Brooklyn and Hantsport firefighters to fill the coverage areas the former town department provided.

Brooklyn Fire Chief Andy McDade said while they would prefer to see a three-bay drive-through substation, they understand the municipality's fiscal restraints and will be pleased with whatever council decides.

The CAO reminded the committee that council is looking to regionalize fire services and they don't need to have a full fire station built in each community.

“The bigger question is do we want to overbuild something that doesn't seem to be in the plan or direction of council, which is to regionalize and share resources?” she asked.

The meeting lasted less than 40 minutes. The recommendation will be brought forward for council's consideration Feb. 14. The date of the next fire restructuring committee meeting has yet to be determined, but will likely be in early March after the CAO has had the opportunity to meet with the Windsor Fire Department.

There was no discussion on the construction of a potential fire substation for Falmouth.

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