Salt Spring’s new fire hall project is on schedule and within budget as of July 31, according to the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District, also known as Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR).
“Despite financial constraints, including the rapid rise of chartered bank interest rates since 2022, SSIFR is confident that the project remains within the stipulated referendum limit of $9.7 million for borrowing,” SSIFR stated in a press release issued last week.
In a referendum held last June, 75 per cent of voters approved borrowing up to $9.7 million for a $13-million hall to be built on Lower Ganges Road at Atkins Road.
SSIFR said that since its launch in January 2023, the fire hall project has made consistent advancements, beginning in March when MKM Construction was awarded the construction management contract and Johnson Davidson Architecture was chosen as the architect.
The project steering committee is now in the final stages of design collaboration with the architect. Once approved, the architect will secure the building permit, while the construction manager initiates the tendering process.
The property site has been surveyed and staked, and further land preparation is also on the horizon, involving topsoil removal and storage.
Hans Hazenboom is the SSIFR representative on the project.
“Final working drawings are approaching completion,” he said, “and these drawings are crucial to finetune final pricing. Building permits will be sought once those drawings are finalized, and then the construction tendering process can begin.”
SSIFR chief administrative officer Rodney Dieleman added, “Our proactive approach to risk management has allowed us to address potential challenges effectively. The project steering committee has been working closely with partners, including the adjacent property owners and other island services, to keep the project on track and on budget.”
A town hall event hosted by SSIFR has been set for Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at Community Gospel Chapel.
The session will feature presentations about progress on the new fire hall project, the draft 2024 budget and the new draft five-year strategic plan. Guests will be able to ask questions of CAO Dieleman, board chair Rollie Cook, fire chief Jamie Holmes and key project coordinators.
In the meantime, one member of the fire board has started a seemingly independent change.org petition to “give ratepayers options and potential property tax relief” by looking at fire hall projects recently completed or proposed in Cumberland, Powell River and Bowen Island.
David Courtney, who joined the board by acclamation in April of this year, wants the chosen fire hall plan to be revisited and community members given a choice of two design concepts, with “merits and costs” disclosed. He then wants ratepayers surveyed on their choice for a new fire hall by Sept. 30.
“The petition is about spending ratepayers’ money wisely and to have choices on how we do that,” he told the Driftwood Monday. “And that’s all.”
Courtney said he is taking this action as a Salt Spring ratepayer and not a fire board trustee.
SSIFR was not ready to offer a comment about Courtney’s petition initiative as of Driftwood press time on Monday.