Plans for new fire halls, safety building heading to Penticton council

Plans for new fire halls

Penticton city council will soon debate plans to construct two new fire department buildings and a community safety building, as part of a goal to address growing demands.

At Tuesday's meeting, council will hear the staff recommendation that a new fire hall headquarters with expansions and improvement be built at the current Fire Hall #2 on Dawson Avenue, an improved satellite fire hall downtown at the current Fire Hall #1 location, and a community safety building combining RCMP, bylaw and potential for space for the Emergency Operations Centre when needed at 450 Martin Street.

Fire Hall #1 no longer has the footprint to serve as headquarters.

“The necessity for improved space to house all of our protective services was clearly identified in the Civic Place and Spaces Project as the top priority by the public and staff have determined locating on one site was not going to meet the practical needs of the emergency services for a variety of reasons,” said Kelsey Johnson, the director of community services, in a press release issued Friday.

“The preferred option allows us to meet the expectation of the public and ensure that the community policing, bylaw and fire services all have the tools they need to continue delivering exceptional service.”

Staff had examined the feasibility of one building to house all, and five options were developed, but the report to council concludes “that none of these sites were deemed suitable for a new 4-Bay Headquarters Firehall, given the space needs and inefficiencies resulting from trying to locate a facility of this size on these downtown parcels of land.”

“The option being proposed sees a new fire hall on city-owned land to serve a large portion of the community, a revitalized fire hall downtown and an innovative public-private partnership that will amalgamate the Bylaw Services Department and community policing into one public-facing space,” said Johnson.

“This option also would see the development of much-needed housing that will add to the vibrancy of the city core.”

The report indicates early cost implications only, as many variables are still in flux. Currently, the report only states an estimate of $23M for the Dawson Avenue fire hall, and notes that the community safety building will see financial analysis at a later stage. The city currently pays $30k a year in rent for its existing bylaw office on Main Street.

Should council approve, staff will move forward with the design stage and potential public engagement after details, including financial implications, are firmed up.

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