View Royal has started putting money aside for a new fire hall building, but the Town is a long way from knowing when the project will start or how much it will cost.
Last December View Royal approved borrowing $2.5 million to purchase a 2.4-acre property for the fire hall in the 300-block of Island Highway. That debt will be paid back from casino revenue, rather than through taxes.
Council has also earmarked $50,000 of casino revenue this year as the first payment into a new reserve fund that will be put towards the fire hall, but after that tax increases will be used to build up the fund.
In 2012 a one per cent tax bump will be dedicated to the fire hall fund, followed by three per cent in 2013, 3.5 per cent in 2014 and 5.5 per cent in 2015. The resulting fund will have more than $700,000 accumulated by 2015, plus interest.
In reports to council, the number tossed around for the cost to build the new fire hall was $8 million, though that’s expected to be on the high end.
“We won’t know the cost until we have a capital plan, I don’t know when that will be,” said Mayor Graham Hill, noting the price tag could be offset by the sale of Town property, including the site of the existing fire hall and any excess land at the new location.
“It’s likely the property we bought is larger than needed.”
Hill said a construction time line hasn’t been established, and wouldn’t speculate on when he thought work might begin on a new hall.
“We’re early in planning, we don’t even have a building design yet,” Hill said. “We’ve got the land. We’ve started the process of saving. And that’s where we’re at.”
Though View Royal fire chief Paul Hurst is looking forward to a new hall, he isn’t pushing council for deadlines.
“Even I don’t know when it will be built,” Hurst said. “Council is committed to moving forward on this, and that’s the main thing.”
View Royal has long outgrown its 54-year-old fire hall, designed when the town only needed a dozen volunteers firefighters.
There are now 35 firefighters responding to more than 750 callouts per year, including automatic aid calls with Colwood.