Seeley's Bay's new firehall to proceed

The new proposed firehall in Seeley’s Bay took one step closer to reality this week.

On Monday, the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands council unanimously directed staff to proceed with finalizing design and tender preparation for the new Fire Station No. 2.

David Holliday, the director of operations for the township, said the consultants' goal is to have the tender ready by the end of the month.

“So that we can have the tender submissions provided to council for November, also for budget for 2024,” said Holliday.

Fire Chief Mike Prior, who was in attendance, was excited with the progress of the project.

“From where we started to where we are now, it certainly fits our needs now and moving forward,” said Prior.

Deputy Mayor Terry Fodey echoed Prior’s comments.

“I’d like to report I think this gives us what we’re looking for in a firehall,” said Fodey.

Coun. Brian Mabee agreed.

“It’s a great looking building,” said Mabee. “The residents in the northern part will be much safer with its build. I’m happy to see we’ve made some gains and we have a future building that will service the community in a much safer manner. Its location will be more central to the coverage area.

"It can withstand some of the climatic conditions that we may have in our future. As an emergency shelter, also, for people in our area, if they need to come to a place that is safe, warm.”

Station 2, located in Seeley's Bay, was identified in the township's asset management plan as having reached the end of its useful life as a firehall. In preparation for identifying requirements for a new fire station, members of council and staff toured fire stations in neighbouring municipalities and identified items for consideration during the design phase. An amount of $400,000 was included in the 2022 capital budget for the acquisition of land and design of a new firehall.

At the April 4, 2022 meeting, staff provided the proposed spaces resulting in a 10,000-square-foot facility with cost estimates based on the firehalls toured with council for approval. At the Sept. 6, 2022 meeting council awarded the architectural design to IDEA Inc.

At the April 11, 2023 meeting, council authorized staff to proceed with Option 3A (8,202 square feet) approving the removal of the mezzanine, and deferral of the acquisition of SCBA filling station and commercial kitchen appliances based on IDEA Inc. Class B estimates resulting in estimated costs of $3,673,841 without contingencies and $4,219,922 with.

At the July 4 meeting, council rejected the proposal of a flat roof and directed staff to provide an alternative peaked roof design made of steel.

And at the July 10 meeting, council approved the alternative peaked roof design made of steel.

Following that meeting, IDEA Inc. proceeded with a minor variance application, as the proposed entranceway on County Road 32 does not comply with the zoning bylaw. This process required a public hearing and was open for input from the public, resulting in a complaint of potential light pollution from the outgoing fire trucks when responding to calls during the night. IDEA Inc. was able to address the concern by re-orienting the septic system from the south side of the firehall to the north, shifting the firehall further south. Council approved the minor variance.

In addition to the minor variance application, IDEA Inc. has completed the preliminary design submission to staff for review.

The proposed project schedule has construction starting in 2023 and completed in 2024. An amount of $2 million has been included in the 2023 capital budget. The balance of the project costs will be included in the 2024 capital budget for council's approval.

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times