If the referendum to build a new fire hall passes this June, $1 million of the cost of the new building will be supplied by funds from the Capital Regional District (CRD) gas tax fund.
A May 16 news release confirmed that an agreement in principle had been reached between the CRD and the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD) to have $1 million from the CRD’s Community Works Fund go towards the $13.7-million proposed new hall. The referendum, to be conducted at the end of June by mail-in ballot, will ask ratepayers if they approve of the department borrowing $9.7 million to build a new Ganges fire hall.
If the referendum passes, the CRD will work with the fire department to transfer the federal funding to support construction of a proposed 11,500-square-foot building, Salt Spring CRD director Gary Holman stated.
“This agreement will allow us to reduce the cost for ratepayers of creating a much-needed new fire hall and illustrates how the CRD can work effectively with our fire district in a way that benefits the community,” Holman added.
Chair of the SSIFPD board Rollie Cook called the confirmation of funding a win for the community.
Fire chief Jamie Holmes reiterated that the current Ganges hall #1 is no longer fit for the purpose of being a fire hall. He added that by working with the CRD to get access to federal funding, the SSIFPD can build a new fire hall “without increasing property taxes.”
In addition to the $9.7 million in borrowing and the $1 million Community Works Fund contribution from the CRD, $3 million in reserve funds will be used for the project. The fire district has been placing $600,000 of its annual property tax requisition over the past few years into a reserve fund for this purpose.
The proposed new fire hall will be located north of Ganges on Lower Ganges Road, on land donated by owners of Brinkworthy Place.
- With files from Gail Sjuberg