View Royal residents had their first sneak peek at the initial design for the new fire hall at an open house last Wednesday.
The specific design for the building is yet to come, but design firm Hughes Condon Marler Architects had site details for the public to see.
What is proposed is a two-storey building just under 17,000 square feet that includes space for the fire trucks, equipment and offices, along with training space and multipurpose rooms that will be available for emergency operations and community use.
Designers are working to use the natural sloping geography of the 2.4 acre site in the 300 block of Island Highway for minimal site modifications.
The entrance will be at the high point of the slope on Island Highway to avoid excavating. Parking will be scattered around the site to avoid digging out one large, flat area. The fire hall itself will be set in the lowest part of the site, which will allow residents in the neighbourhood behind the site to, for the most part, see over the building.
Many aspects were taken into account when looking at the site including grades, the neighbours, sunlight, sound, visuals and connection points said lead designer Roger Hughes.
“What you’ve got here today really is a program,” Hughes said. “These are the spaces we’re trying to get on the site and this is testing can we get that program on the site? And the answer is yes.”
The new fire hall is needed to replace the current hall, which has outlived its use, said fire Chief Paul Hurst.
The current hall, built in 1957, doesn’t meet seismic standards, has no heat in the truck bay or air conditioning to cool the offices and does not have enough space for trucks, training or people. A number of reports say the building would likely collapse in a moderate earthquake.
Hurst said that some staff are working out of renovated broom closets and old washrooms.
“It’s been a long process, but now is the right time to do it,” Hurst said. “I’m excited to move forward. It’s long overdue.”
Hurst said the majority of the feedback he’s heard from the community has been positive and that public input will continue to play a large part in the design process.
“We’ve answered a lot of questions on what we’ve done and how the process works,” Hurst said. “I’m sure there will be more questions, it’s just a matter of addressing those … I’m really happy with the outcome so far and I think the community is as well.”
Marnie Pringle lives on Burnett Road, off the Island Highway, across from where the station is to be built.
She is concerned about increased traffic and with drivers using Burnett Road to evade congestion on Island Highway.
“We’ve asked several time to have speed bumps installed on the road and no one’s done it obviously,” Pringle said. “This would be great time for it. That would be my only concern.”
View Royal will hold a referendum or counter petition process to seek public permission to borrow money to build the hall. In 2010 the Town used a counter petition to borrow up to $2.5 million to buy the site.
Hurst said the fire hall budget will be known when the building design is completed.
If approved, the Town expects to go to tender in late fall and the building is anticipated to be completed in 2014.
Another public open house will be held April 4 to reveal the building design and accept public feedback.