(Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

(Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Harrison hoping for $750K to upgrade fire hall

The renovations would include seismic upgrades, changes to social distancing for fire fighters

Harrison council has voted to apply for a $750,000 grant to pay for long-needed renovations to the village’s fire hall.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Counc. Michie Vidal said during the Monday council meeting (Jan. 18). “Our fire station certainly has needed upgrades for many years.”

Harrison will be applying for money through the Canada Infrastructure Program — COVID-19 Infrastructure Stream, which would pay for 100 per cent of the costs associated with upgrading the aging fire station.

Harrison’s fire fighters currently do not have enough space within their fire hall to put on their gear while being physically distant. Fire fighters change in the truck bay beside the vehicles, often in close quarters with other responders.

According to operations manager Tyson Koch, the grant funding would pay for renovations to the offices and storage rooms in the existing building, which would be changed into a change room for the fire fighters. The chief, deputy chief and fire inspector offices, as well as the storage room and furnishings, would be moved to a proposed addition.

These changes would be completed in conjunction with seismic upgrades to the hall, which would also be funded by the COVID-19 grant money.

According to Koch, all renovations would need to be completed by the end of this year, and the fire hall would remain operational during construction.

Although all of council voted in support of the grant application, councillors Ray Hooper and Gerry Palmer had concerns about the fast turnaround for the application, which is due Jan. 27.

“When we see these things, it’s always a week before the deadline, so by that point it needs to go in the way it is,” Palmer said, noting that he received a “reasonably well-considered letter” from a resident with some questions about the project. He referenced earlier grant applications for a trail and lift station, which have not come back to council.

RELATED: Harrison seeks $2 million in grants for storm water infrastructure

“There is an inclination to go ahead with the grant, but I don’t think we ever get a chance to see it again,” other than to tender it, he said, adding that he planned to put forward a motion at the next council meeting to say that these grants, if awarded, would only go ahead with council approval.

“I feel some obligation to do a bit more due diligence on some of the issues.”

Hooper also wanted council to have a better opportunity to look at the designs for the upgraded fire hall, citing concerns from the 2018 seismic report.

Harrison does have plans for the fire hall renovations, which have been costed. Those plans will be brought forward during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20 as a late item.


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