Mount Washington will get a new fire hall if property owners approve

Mount Washington will get a new fire hall if property owners approve
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Mount Washington is poised to get a $2.2 million fire hall following several serious fires in recent years if property owners agree.

Those who live work and play on Mount Washington may soon be more protected against fires and other emergencies if taxpayers give the green light.

The resort and property owners have long wanted their own fire hall and the Comox Valley Regional District is poised to approve a crucial step in that process.

The Regional District envisions a new $2.2 million fire hall built right across from the main Mount Washington parking lot.

“We’ve had a couple of close calls where people have barely escaped from burning buildings so it’s been a long time coming and I’m very hopeful that it’s supported by the electorate up there,” said Edwin Grieve, the “Area C” Director with the Comox Valley Regional District.

A fire in February 2015 is among several that saw structures burn to the ground over the years largely because of their remote location and lack of fire service and slow response time.

In 2017 Oyster River Fire Department signed a contract to fight fires at the resort but officials have long said a fire hall with some firefighters on the mountain would make the largest difference.

“It really provides a location for local firefighters to train and being a focal point in the community up there. Currently, they’re training down in Oyster River and obviously we’d like them to have a home that’s close by to the delivery of their services,” said Doug DeMarzo, the Regional District’s General Manager of Community Services.

Renderings show what the 4,000 square foot fire hall would look like and thanks to two community work grants secured equalling $900,000, the estimated cost of borrowing — which also accounts for purchasing equipment — is $1.8 million.

“It’s your typical rural fire hall. Two bays, a little bit of training area et cetera so it’s what the needs are up there for the apparatus we need to store and respond to fires,” said DeMarzo.

An alternative approval process will likely be used which means the hall will be built unless a threshold of impacted property owners registers their opposition.

Louis Lamb is a Mount Washington property owner and he says he wants to see a new fire hall built.

“It’s great it’s needed. Hopefully, insurance costs come down. If something does catch fire then you need that quick response time and someone coming up the hill is going to take a while,” said Lamb.

Barring enough opposition, they’d like to start construction in July next year or in 2023.

Grieve says the lack of a local fire department and firefighters has scared off some larger-scale developers from the mountain over the years.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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