Fate of Main Street Fire Hall to be discussed at open house
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:03 am
Discussion around the potential closure of the Main Street Fire Hall will reconvene on March 27 at 6:30 p.m. during an open house at Airdrie City Hall.
The City has procured the services of Calgary-based leadership development expert Morag Ritchie to facilitate the discussion.
“Given the emotional nature of this issue, we wanted to really be able to listen to the questions and concerns of residents,” said Corporate Communications Team Leader Lynda Phelan.
“We felt it was best to have a neutral party to make sure everyone is heard.”
During a Feb. 3 meeting of council, aldermen voted in favour of re-designating land in Williamstown in the city’s northwest for the development of a new firehall.
According to the Airdrie Fire Department’s (AFD) Fire Master Plan, the construction of a new firehall in Williamstown would result in the closure of the Main Street location.
AFD Chief Kevin Weinberger explained at the Feb. 3 meeting that the department is currently not meeting response times in the city’s northwest and that a new hall was a necessity.
“We will still be able to hit response time targets in the downtown from Williamstown,” said Weinberger.
The decision to go forward with the Williamstown location was met with skepticism and concern from residents, including 2013 aldermanic candidate Kevin Hughes, who told council on Feb. 3, “I moved to the downtown so that I could be close to a firehall.”
The structure of the March 27 open house will be a bit of a deviation from the traditional style, according to Phelan.
“Normally, it’s a bit more casual where our staff are all available for questions and there will be information boards,” said Phelan.
“We know that there is already quite a bit of information going around so this is more about how people are reacting and seeing what can be done.”
Representatives from Behr Energy, who authored the Fire Master Plan, along with AFD chiefs and City staff will be on hand to tackle issues on a more specific level.
There will be no formal presentation from City staff as there have been with recent curbside organics open houses.
“The residents will all have their say and we will be able to stream their concerns and questions into different categories and direct them to whomever is best suited to address those concerns,” said Phelan.
City staff will also be keeping a record of all questions and concerns to form a report to bring to council in order to come up with the best way forward.
“I’m excited to meet with the public and hopefully be able to answer as many of their questions as I can,” said AFD Deputy Chief Garth Rabel. “Hopefully, we get a good turnout.”