View Royal has started looking for the architect to design its future fire hall building.
The request for proposals closes July 22. By the end of September council should have evaluated and picked its favourite to move into the public approval process, when the first conceptual designs for the new building will be unveiled.
Fire Chief Paul Hurst said he’s looking for more than just a place to park fire trucks. He wants a building that will withstand earthquakes or floods and serve as the post-disaster emergency services building where residents can come for aid.
That could never happen in the current 54-year-old fire hall, which can barely stand up to a snow storm.
“Even a moderate snow fall will cause structural damage to this building. The roof can’t hold it,” said Hurst, who has worked in the existing building for nearly 28 years. “It will be really great to finally get into somewhere new.”
The Town’s request is for construction to begin in spring 2012, if the public approval process is successful.
It is asking for a $5.5 million total project cost for a two-storey administrative building next to a drive through garage with four bays, to park eight response vehicles facing out each end. It’s expected this will take 17,000 square feet in total floor space, and there will also be outdoor training grounds.
The current fire hall, with a total floor space of 5,000 square feet on a 0.4 acre property, parks five vehicles in back-in bays and extra trucks are stored outside. There’s nowhere for training and not enough parking for firefighters on shift. The cramped administrative area is stacked on top of the garage, making it drafty, noisy and somewhat of a safety risk.
The Town officially took possession of its new land for the hall this month and has started surveying and clearing it of tall grass and brush. The 2.4 acre property, which View Royal bought for $2.5 million, is across from Fort Victoria on Island Highway.
A fence will soon be erected around the site to keep out homeless people who regularly sleep there, as three vacated homes, some sheds and old building foundations are torn out.
Many natural features on the land, such as trees and rock outcrops, will be retained.
“It’s a unique piece of property, and it would be great to see a creative architect who will work with the lay of the land,” Hurst said.
View Royal fire rescue is a composite station with 30 volunteer and six career firefighters responding to 750 callouts per year, including automatic aid calls with Colwood.
The fire chief intends to post regular updates on the project at www.viewroyalfire.com, under “New Fire Hall.”