The idea of constructing a new fire hall and public safety building for View Royal materialized long before 2012, the year discussions around how to fund a new facility became a lot more heated.
The need for an updated home and training facility for this much-valued community group started long before that, prior to Fire Chief Paul Hurst making his pitch to council for a new building in 2006.
Few people doubted the need for the department to move into more suitable quarters, where equipment could be stored properly and more training could be done on site, rather than wherever they could find a workable spot out in the community.
But the original cost, requiring the town to take out a $7.9-million loan, scared many residents away from the idea. Council of the day, helped by Hurst and others, oversaw a reworking of the plans to the point where it became a manageable number, one that would add somewhere in the neighbourhood of $80 per year in property tax to the average residential home.
Looking at what the new facility offers and the heightened level of preparedness it will create for a group of individuals charged with protecting the community in many ways, and we’d say it’s a pretty darned cheap insurance policy.
The new building, designed by Victoria’s Hughes Condon Marler Architects, incorporates not just the fire prevention and protection services, but the town’s building inspection, bylaw enforcement and emergency planning functions. Members of the four departments, which fall under the banner of protective services, communicate regularly to help keep the community safe. Keeping them all together under one roof, a move made in early 2014 in the old hall, makes sense, strategically and economically.
Mayor David Screech believes the bitterness and division in the community surrounding the planning and budgeting for the new building has died down, more than two years after the community voted 64 per cent in favour of the new financial deal.
We believe him when he says View Royal residents got good value for their tax dollars.
But don’t just take our word for it. Why not stop by the hall yourself and check it out for yourself. Whomever is on duty will be proud to show off their new digs.