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Maryhill will get new fire hall as Woolwich council changes course

Maryhill residents could have a new fire hall as early as later this year, or perhaps by 2023. Woolwich councillors this week voted to scrap tenders received to renovate the facility in favour of replacing it completely.

Having debated the issue of renovating or building new a couple of times already, councillors quickly opted for the replacement option during a meeting Monday night. That the latest staff report indicated a new station could be built for the original $1.4 million budget rather than $1.7 million to renovate was likely a factor in the decision.

“I think that’s a wise way to spend the tax dollars. I was glad they came up with that decision,” said Maryhill district fire chief Kevin Karley in an interview Tuesday, welcoming the idea of a new station.

Firefighters had some concerns about renovating the existing structure, which wouldn’t eliminate all of the problems there.

Coun. Murray Martin stressed the need for input from firefighters in voting for a new building. He had been skeptical of the renovation plan.

“Will fire department staff be involved in the design and the layout of the new building?” he asked Thomas van der Hoff, manager of operations and projects.

“We will involve staff more throughout the process. We have already sat down at the table and looked at some designs that are likely to be replicated and submitted for this project ,” van der Hoff responded.

Having toured the new fire station in St. Clements, built in 2019 at a cost of $1.3 million, Maryhill firefighters had seen the facility as a good fit for their needs.

Depending on how quickly the project could be put out to tender and what kind of response the township received, the work could be done as early as later this year or perhaps in 2023, said van der Hoff, noting arrangements will have to be made to find a temporary home for the equipment while the work is carried out.

“We’ve looked at opportunities for keeping them on site but just based on the size of the site – it’s a very small site, space is limited and with the septic taking up a third of the site as well, it creates some challenges,” said.

Karley noted the goal is to find a space in the village to keep the trucks rather than making use of the Breslau station. Construction in the spring and summer months – the build is expected to take about six months to complete, the same as the projected timeline for a renovation – would be more convenient if the trucks are going to be stored outside, he added.

“At this point, Breslau is the last option. We’d like stay close.”

In approving the change of course, council also backed the retention of Vallee Consulting Engineers, Architects and Planners, which had been part of the plan to renovate the existing building. The firm would provide project administration and oversee the design and construction of the facility at a cost of up to $70,000, minus some $37,000 in unspent fees the township has already provided, said van der Hoff.

The consultancy was something of a sore spot for Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who suggested the fees were a little high for oversight services.

“Getting $70 000 for six months of babysitting some construction seems like a really good deal for the person doing the babysitting ,” he said.

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