A fire hall for the Merville community is planned for next year.
This is the target for completion after the Comox Valley Regional District board awarded a contract for construction of the auxiliary hall at the July 27 meeting.
“We’ve been a long time coming on this,” Area C director Edwin Grieve said.
He commended staff for persevering at the project, saying residents in parts of Area B and C will appreciate having the fire hall in the area.
“We have kind of an area there that’s not really serviced,” he said.
The regional district provides fire protection service through a contract with the City of Courtenay. The plan, according to the CVRD website, is for the new auxiliary hall to be built at Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) property at Williams Beach Road and Highway 19A and managed in collaboration with Oyster River Fire Rescue.
Grieve had raised the issue several years earlier but did not get a favourable response, with some saying people had planned this back in the 1960s, though nothing resulted.
“It takes a while for government to actually work,” he said. “In this case, it’s coming to fruition finally, and it’s sorely needed.”
Beyond having close fire protection, the auxiliary hall will also help with first responder calls. This, Grieve added, will help people to age in place, at home in rural areas.
The cost will be a little more than expected, especially with the price of building materials at present, he said, but having the hall will be a “big boost” for residents in the northern part of Area B and Area C.
“I look forward to seeing everybody at the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” he said.
A staff report notes that while there had been seven construction firms that took part in a site visit earlier in the project, the CVRD only ended up with one bid, from Kinetic Construction for just over $1.3 million, excluding GST. The tender period ran between May 11 and June 24. Despite the initial interest, several firms informed the regional district they would not be submitting bids in what has been a busy construction season. The report also noted the CVRD anticipates work would start in July with completion early next year.
The project moved ahead after a loan authorization bylaw cleared the alternative approval process (AAP) last fall to help finance construction, with some funding coming from capital reserves. The CVRD received only eight elector response forms in opposition. Along with the $1.3 million for construction, the project includes another $810,000 for vehicles and equipment.