Construction could start later this year on Maple Ridge’s fourth fire hall after council forwarded the plan to a public hearing in September.
The new hall is proposed for a 10-acre site at 112th Avenue and 238th Street in the fast-growing north Albion neighbourhood.
Fire Hall No. 4 has been in the works for almost two decades and now carries a price tag of about $15 million.
Part of that sum, $6 million, has previously been approved for borrowing and will be paid off through the fire department capital acquisition reserve. A lump sum of $8.6 million will be paid directly from that same reserve, while $388,000 will come from the city’s capital works reserve.
A new firefighter training centre, as well as a computer server room for the city’s information technology will be part of the project.
Maple Ridge Fire Chief Howard Exner said some residents who showed up at an open house in June were concerned about the noise that could come from paid-on-call crews who have to train after hours.
Crews would be practising high-angle rescues, fire training and auto extrications at the proposed hall, but not live-fire exercises. Those will continue to be done at the Justice Institute of B.C. facility on north 256th Street.
The new hall has been planned to mitigate impacts on the area, said Exner. The main fire hall would help block noise from the training centre to the north, while landscaping and trees would also help reduce noise. Studies were even done to reduce the impact of light from the hall on the surrounding neighbourhood.
“We knew that noise was going to be an issue. We’ve been proactive about what the concerns will be,” Exner said.
He added that while some residents at the open house were worried about noise, others liked the project.
“Some people think it’s a great idea and can’t wait,” he said.
“There are some people who had some concerns. Some are concerned about noise. Both the training centre and fire hall, quite frankly, can be noisy places some times.”
There would be some evening training, but nothing into the late-evening hours.
Residents will have a chance to comment again at the public hearing in the fall.
Exner said if the project gets fourth reading by council, that construction could start in November or December.
“It’s going to be nice to finish this project,” he added.
“It should reduce our response time by several minutes to the five- or seven-minute range.”
The hall is smaller than the main Fire Hall No. 1, which was renovated in 2010.
In 2016, 14 per cent of the total calls for fire department service, and about 22 per cent of the structure fire calls came from the Albion area. The area now accounts for some 600 calls per year.