The clouds parted and a large crowd gathered as the Parksville Volunteer Fire Department officially unveiled its shiny, brand new addition on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Parksville deputy fire Chief Marc Norris welcomed dignitaries and the public to the fire hall’s open house and official ribbon cutting.
Members of the public were invited to check out the new digs and enjoy some cake and refreshments, but not before hearing a bit of the history surrounding the fire department.
The expansion of the fire hall wasn’t without controversy and when fire Chief Doug Banks took to the podium before the official ribbon cutting, he spoke from the heart about the journey the project has taken.
“Thank god it is done,” he declared.
Construction of the three bay addition and complete renovation of the existing hall started in spring 2010 and includes consolidated storage of important equipment, improved administration and training areas and much needed shower facilities for decontamination.
Banks said the new facility gives them a proper base to work from and a proper training facility so they can provide a high level of service.
He added the new shower facility will allow their members to get cleaned up after they have attended a fire incident and not take contaminants home.
Micheal Matzanke, president of the Parksville Volunteer Firefighters Association, told the gathering the new facility will mean no more cramped quarters and poor lighting for their members.
“I have heard comments like ‘it’s big’ and ‘it’s awesome.’ The addition allows us to do our job in a safe and effective manner and do it much better,” said Matzanke.
There have been no upgrades to the fire hall since it was built in 1974 and with a growing population as well as increasing emergency and non emergency calls, the community outgrew the fire hall long ago.
The design of the addition can accommodate any future expansion.
Acting Mayor Chris Burger, who participated in the opening ceremonies, welcomed two special guests on Saturday.
John and Vivian Leakey were advised by city council back in July 2010 on their 60th wedding anniversary that the lane behind the fire hall would be named after them.
John said he likes the sound of Leakey Lane and said it was an exciting day for them.
The Parksville pioneer, who was born in 1927, used to milk cows in the morning and then deliver the milk before attending school in what is now the Society of Organized Services building. He said has seen a lot of changes to the city over the years and is honoured to have his name on the street sign.