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Town of Carstairs aims to borrow $1.6 million for new fire hall

Town, county cost sharing construction of $4 million eastside facility
MVT new Carstairs fire hall design
A drawing of the planned new Carstairs firehall. Image courtesy of Town of Carstairs

CARSTAIRS - Town council had given first reading to a bylaw that would permit the municipality to borrow $1.6 million to help finance the new fire hall.

The move came during the April 26 council meeting, held in person and by Zoom.

“We’re glad the fire hall project is moving along,” said Town of Carstairs Mayor Lance Colby. “It is needed and it will be good once it is done.”

The total cost of the project has been pegged at $4 million, with Mountain View County contributing $2 million and the Town of Carstairs contributing $2 million, including $400,000 from reserves.

The $1.6 million loan would be for a period of 15 years and would come from Alberta Capital Finance Authority or another authorized financial institution by the issuance of debentures and on terms and conditions outlined in the bylaw.

“We will be advertising the bylaw over the next couple of weeks and then bringing it back to council for approval,” said chief administrative officer Carl McDonnell.

The Carstairs and District Department Building Committee, a partnership between the Town of Carstairs and Mountain View County, is overseeing the new fire hall project. The hall will be located on Mandalay Boulevard, on the town’s east side.

Both municipalities have already passed motions authorizing the project, with the final scope, design and municipal contributions to be approved by each council prior to construction. 

The project will see the town and county split costs on a 50/50 basis.

The committee was tasked with determining the feasibility of constructing a new fire hall, determining the requirements of the new facility, determining the feasibility of constructing a new facility, and approving a design and budget to recommend to both councils.

The committee said it believes that a $4 million valuation, including land costs, is appropriate for the proposed facility.

“The next thing is we need to find the contractor to build it,” said Colby, noting that request for proposals are now advertised. “They (contractors) have already been pre-qualified. We’ve had some come out and take a look (at the site).”

Sewer, water and roadwork is already started at the site, he said.

“Now they are getting it ready, prepping it,” he said.

McDonnell added: “We have the project out for tender right now for a design build concept. Once we have the proposals back, the committee will approve one of the contractors and recommend back to their respective councils approval for the project." 

As part of its work, the committee examined the existing fire hall, located at 1450 Gough Road and built in 1979. The committee examined the facility, looking at the training room, bay area, office space, hose tower and apparatus.

Regarding the feasibility of the existing facility, the committee said, in part, that the hall is “no longer large enough to fit the apparatus, manpower and equipment required to service the Carstairs fire district area effectively.”

Asked what the town plans to do with the existing fire hall building, Colby said, “We are definitely going to keep it and use it as another town facility. We may look at leaving one (fire) truck over there so we have a truck on either side (of the railway tracks). It will be utilized as part of the town operation.”

The bay area of the new hall will have drive-through access with each end with sixteen-foot by sixteen-foot overhead doors at each end. The overall bay will consist of four tandem bays allowing access to all current fire apparatuses and emergency equipment.

The training room of the new fire hall will be designed to accommodate up to 40 personnel, and be about 1,000 square feet in size.

“Our timeframe is to have final design and councils' approval by the end of June with construction this year,” said McDonnell.

Amendment includes wrecking yards

Meanwhile, council has given first reading to a land use bylaw amendment that would include placing wrecking yards under direct control designation. 

The amendment would add a number of permitted uses to the direct control district - 1, which is in place to “provide for a range of agricultural uses engaged in production and distribution of products, which may require an indoor storage component.

The additions include sales and service outlets for automobiles, trucks, recreational vehicles or manufactured homes and auto wrecking yard.

Current permitted uses include building supply centres, greenhouses, commercial light manufacturing, and office support services.

The proposed amendment will come back before council on May 25 for possible second and final reading.