Friday, 07 April 2017 05:39

City starts process to construct new fire hall

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The City of Swift Current has started a three-phase process to construct a new fire hall that will meet the requirements of a modern fire department.

Council members approved a motion at a regular council meeting on March 27 to appoint P3Architecture Partnership as the consultant for the first phase of the project at a cost of $79,384.
The current fire hall building is 104 years old. According to Swift Current Fire Chief Denis Pilon, it is the second oldest fire hall in Canada that is still in use. The fire hall in Nelson, B.C., is only a few months older. Its original design was more suitable to horse-draw fire equipment and smaller vehicles and not for the size of modern firefighting trucks.
“Lack of space, we’re coming out in three different directions,” he said. “It wasn’t designed for the types of trucks and equipment we’re putting into it. ... We’ve done fantastic to make it last as long as it has. It’s a beautiful building, but as with everything else, we’ve outgrown it.”
Despite its age the fire hall does not have a designation as a heritage building at the moment due to its active use by the fire department.
“We’ve resisted that because it would hamstring us too much operationally, if we need to make changes for our trucks and stuff like that,” he said. “However, the minute we move out of it, I’m pretty sure that there will be a lot of people wanting to declare it as a heritage building.”
The City’s intention is to construct a new fire hall on the vacant lot at the corner of Herbert Street East and 6th Avenue N.E., adjacent to the Swift Current Branch Library. It will be designed to accommodate other emergency services.
“If the police, and they’ve already talked about outgrowing their building, need to expand, then there are shared uses that we can look at,” Pilon said. “So things like classrooms and coffee rooms and that where we can share we would.”
During the first phase, the consultant team will develop a functional program for the project with schematic drawings to ensure the project will be eligible for federal and provincial infrastructure funding.
“Architects and engineers will come in, they’ll look at our current operation, what kind of equipment, how big it is, how we operate and then they’ll look at how to design a building that will suit our needs,” he explained.
The City’s intention is to be shovel ready for any grant funding that might be available from the federal and provincial governments. Pilon referred to an example from the city of Yorkton, where a new fire hall was constructed about five years ago for $7.5 million.
Grant funding from the other levels of government will reduce the cost of the project for City of Swift Current ratepayers.
“So we’re looking at having something ready so that when there is a program that’s announced and proposed that we can take the plans and go forward and say, ‘Here, we’re ready to move,’” he said. “Typically, we’ve not been able to apply in the past because we’re not shovel ready.”
The second phase of the project to develop construction drawings and the third phase to construct a new fire hall will proceed once grant funding is approved.
The City received 13 submissions from companies across western Canada on the request for proposal for the first phase of the project. The tender submissions varied in price from $27,500 to $154,230. The submission by Regina-based P3Architecture Partnership was considered to provide the best value, and is less than the budgeted amount of $100,000 for this initial phase.
The consulting team will include specialist consultants from Calgary with experience in fire hall buildings.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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