A drawing of the new firehall proposed for Cumberland. Image, Finlayson Bonet Architecture/MKM Projects

A drawing of the new firehall proposed for Cumberland. Image, Finlayson Bonet Architecture/MKM Projects

Cumberland approves new fire hall project bylaws

Alternate approve process opposition falls well short of 10 per cent threshold

The Village of Cumberland is moving ahead with its new fire hall.

At a special meeting Monday, council voted to adopt temporary borrowing and loan authorization bylaws for the project.

The meeting came on the heels of last week’s deadline for the alternate approval process (AAP). Through this, if at least 10 per cent of electors expressed written opposition to the Village, the bylaw could not go ahead, unless it later goes to referendum. The AAP threshold for the 10 per cent was 310 voters, but by the deadline, the Village received only 57 responses.

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Council members admitted that because of the size of the project and the amount of borrowing, they had anticipated more opposition through the AAP, as they had heard complaints in the community.

“I thought more people would say ‘No,’” Coun. Sean Sullivan said.

Mayor Leslie Baird agreed, saying she recognized many people are concerned about the bylaw but also recognize the need for a new fire hall.

“I think some people forget that this isn’t something that’s going to last two or three years. It’s going to last 50 years, and we have to build for the future. We don’t want to be building another one in 10 years,” she said.

The bylaw authorizes borrowing of up to $4.2 million for the new fire hall. It also authorizes the Village to acquire all “property, easements, rights-of-way, licences, rights or authorities” required for the project. The Village estimates borrowing over 20 years at 4 per cent interest will result in a $142-a-year increase on an average-priced home in Cumberland, worth $431,847. A median commercial property will result in a $294-a-year increase. Amounts will vary based on property value and interest rates.

At a meeting in September, fire chief Mike Williamson discussed some of the reasons for a new hall, including questions about the stability of the current building and the need for a larger space if the department acquires a ladder truck in the future. With the bylaws now adopted, the Village can begin the tendering process. Work is expected to begin in 2020.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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