Qualicum beach fire hall moving forward

Town councillors and members of the fire department have seem them — soon it will be the public's turn.

The architectural firm hired by the Town of Qualicum Beach to design the new facility recently presented three possible layouts — building footprints essentially — to council, which then provided some input and asked members of the fire department to have a look and do the same, according to Coun. Dave Willie.

Dates for public meetings have not been set, said town spokesperson Patricia Huntsman.

While money for the new fire hall has been set aside in the town's budget, "council wants to look at new grant opportunities that may become available," said Huntsman.

That talk is getting tiresome, said Willie.

"I don't know where that crap comes from and it's really starting to annoy me," said Willie. "We are going ahead with the fire hall. It's not contingent on grants. This is in the budget. It's the same person (Mayor Teunis Westbroek) who keeps singing the same song (about grants)."

The need for a new, safe fire hall was a front-and-centre issue for Willie during the 2011 election campaign. He said this week he's pleased with how things have progressed.

"It can't go any quicker than this," said Willie. "Nothing's ever quick when it comes to government. There is a process to follow."

"I think we have moved as quickly as we could have."

Having the information generated by a recent operational review of the fire department was important to the progression of the project, said Willie. The Qualicum Beach Fire Department currently has 30 members and the review suggested the new fire hall be built with a future membership of 40 members in mind.

Willie said the first look council had — provided by Johnson Davidson Architecture — showed possible access points and the building's footprint related to emergency vehicles coming and going from the site, which may be tricky because the location for the new facility is near the roundabout on Memorial Avenue. Members of council have repeatedly stated residents will have input into the building design and look, but neither Willie or Huntsman could say this week when that input may happen.

What is certain is Willie's resolve to move this project forward.

"It's not my position to wait to build the fire hall, waiting for grants," he said. "That's not what we've been talking about and that's not what council has voted for. We are moving ahead with the fire hall."

Johnson Davidson Architecture also did the design work on the Nanoose Bay fire hall. That $3.2 million facility opened in 2012.

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