After a long and occasionally rocky road, ground has been broken on the new View Royal fire hall as construction crews start work this week.
Firefighters, involved parties and dignitaries gathered Thursday, Aug. 15, golden shovels in hand, at the site of the new fire hall to mark the end of red tape and the beginning of construction.
“It’s an exciting day for View Royal,” said fire Chief Paul Hurst. “It’s a culmination of many, many, many years of work and to have it finally come together and do a groundbreaking, we’re on our way. I’ve always waited for this day.”
The build is projected to take 33 weeks, with a move in date of April 2013.
Esquimalt First Nation Chief Andy Thomas helped kick off the groundbreaking with some words on building relationships between the Esquimalt First Nation and View Royal communities.
“We thank the View Royal Fire Department for following to protocol of the land,” Thomas said. “This is how we build a relationship with our neighbours so that we learn to walk together and accept each other for who we are. We’ve been divided for too long.”
The process to approve the fire hall project was not without controversy and hurdles. An initial loan request of $7.9 million was rejected by residents through an Alternative Approval Process in July 2012, forcing the referendum. The entire process produced some heated council debates and numerous letters to the Gazette arguing both for and against the expenditure.
In the end, approval was reached.
“Everyone in the community is entitled to an opinion and this is a democracy, there’s a democratic process. The process spoke and the people supported it,” Hurst said. “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t hear loud and clear the concerns of the people. …
“Lots of lessons learned, bit of heartache, lots of smiles, lots of challenges, but at the end of the day it all worked out.”
Ledcor Construction Limited, the company constructing the fire hall, will start with site clearing, blasting and digging this week. If all goes to plan, concrete will start to be poured in about a month’s time.
The total budget for the building, including site preparation and design, is $7.49 million. Of that, $5.49 million is being borrowed, a sum which View Royal residents approved through a referendum. A further $1 million is coming by way of amenities from the Eagle Creek development.
The current View Royal fire hall is not up to seismic standards, has issues associated with age and is too small a space for the department, Hurst said. It will be sold once the new hall is complete, with the money going towards the construction of the new hall.