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Town council authorizes $464,000 for fire structure on Boblo Island

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A new municipal structure to primarily house a fire truck on Boblo Island has been approved by town council.

After the matter was deferred during 2024 budget deliberations, council members received a report from fire chief Bruce Montone during Monday evening's meeting detailing steps that have been taken on the fire protection issue on Boblo since 2017. After some considerable debate, council authorized the expenditure of approximately $464,000.

The funds will come out of development charges.

Montone said despite him not being on the job in 2017, the fire department currently supports the plan. He said it is his understand after several conversations with the developer, the land can be had for $1 but a location still has to be determined.

Councillor Don McArthur said “growth pays for growth” and that this solution was identified as far back as 2017. He called the $1 offer for the land “a bargain” and believed the solution to build a new structure would help keep people safe, adding by using development charges it doesn't impact the tax rate. Councillor Linden Crain also pointed out the building will be funded through development charges.

“I think this is a common sense solution to a complex problem,” said McArthur.

Councillor Diane Pouget voiced concerns on the issue, wondering why a figure of $15,000 was quoted in a 2019 report while the current figure is $464,000.

Montone said a proposal five years ago was to have a truck in the elements but covered, but Boblo officials stepped up and offered use of the dance hall instead. Issues including the accidental severing of hydro to the facility as well as “heritage challenges” didn't allow for use of the dance hall anymore.

The truck that was on the island was brought to fire station #1 until the developer offered the current facility. Montone stated Boblo Island management is not obligated to provide a storage building for a truck.

CAO Valerie Critchley added the developer is not saying the town has to vacate the structure, but that the building is “not an ideal place to store an asset” due to its deteriorating condition.

“Because of the money available through development charges, this is a solution we are looking at,” said Critchley.

Pouget said council has never acted on the solution since 2019, and questioned why a land deal isn't firmly in place.

“Why agree to it if we don't have the land?” said Pouget.

Montone said the first step would be to acquire the land, then to put out the tender.

Resident notification was another concern for Pouget, with Montone saying the location will come back to council once an agreement is finalized. Critchley added residents would be notified through council agendas as to when it would go before council.

Councillor Peter Courtney voted in favour of a municipally-owned structure, but not so much for a fire truck. He said other staff members on the island could use the building, but had questions over fire protection and level of service. He said the idea of volunteer firefighters living on Boblo is a nice idea but “there are costs associated with everything.”

Courtney suggested he has information he would like to share with council but it would have to be done in closed session.“I've got a lot of intel to share but I can't do it in public session,” said Courtney.

Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb said the town is taking the next step in a plan that was developed in 2017. He said they talk about safety when the ferry goes down and believes this is a step towards addressing that issue. The current structure, he added, is “loosely defined” as a building.

The town also has to protect the truck that is there, said Gibb.

“We can't just let that piece of equipment sit and rot,” the deputy mayor stated.

By Ron Giofu

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