The Crofton Fire Hall is aging and in desperate need of being replaced. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The Crofton Fire Hall is aging and in desperate need of being replaced. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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 opted 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 for the facility.

An assessment conduced in 2018 stated $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 Siebring asked staff how definitive the $3.5-million projected cost is for the new fire hall.

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.”

municipal politics

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

Just Posted

North Cowichan council held its first meeting of 2021 on Jan. 20.
Firearms Discharge Bylaw amendments put on the backburner

Forestry review still needs to be completed before staff makes a recommendation to council

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Rainforest Arts in downtown Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Rainforest Arts maintains a strong presence

Public continues to respond well to showcased artists

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

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

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Island man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read