As a follow-up to the review of the Town’s master fire plan, councillors at Monday’s planning meeting approved in principle the future consolidation of St. Davids and Queenston stations, once the current facilities come to the end of their lifespan, estimated to be about 2030.
Councillors also directed the fire chief to limit future investment in those stations to critical components only, and improvements related to health and safety.
The recommendations included asking the fire chief to report back to council once a suitable property for a consolidated fire station has been found, and to work on a funding strategy for the new station.
Councillors approved those recommendations, but also agreed with Coun. Sandra O’Connor’s request to ask for an investigation into the viability and cost associated with combining the stations through an expansion and renovations to the St. Davids site. Although, as Fire Chief Nick Ruller pointed out, using that station to cover both villages would mean a reduction in service, and likely an impact on the morale of volunteer firefighters if the Queenston station closes.
A consolidated station at an appropriate location would not reduce the level of service to the two villages, the report says.
The discussion of combining the two stations goes back about 40 years, but with the deteriorating state of the buildings, council acknowledged in 2018 they would be required to make a decision about replacements, and asked staff to look at an analysis and viability of both stations.
The consultant who recently reported on a review of the 10-year fire department master plan suggested both a new fire hall and a new location, combining the two stations. After reviewing an addition to either one of the existing stations, he found some problems with that, reporting that both are aging, and will need major structural work in the future. Also, it would be better for staff morale to consolidate the two groups of firefighters in one new location, which would be very different from moving one group to another, existing station, he said.