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Design changes delay fire hall construction

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Construction is expected to start within weeks on a new $4 million replacement for Fire Station No. 11 in St. James, fire officials say.


Construction was originally supposed to begin in October. However, changes to the station’s site plan were made and had to be resubmitted to the city for approval.


"Our target is within the next couple of weeks," said Christine Friesen, project manager for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. "Before Christmas. That’s what we’re hoping for."


Friesen said the original plan called for the station to be situated too far back on two acres of land in the northwest corner of the cloverleaf next to the St. James Hotel.


The new plan calls for the station to be moved closer to Portage Avenue so it is easier to build and will have more of a visual presence in the community, Friesen said.


"When it was set back, you couldn’t see it that well," she said. "Speaking with the councillor, this is a flagship kind of station, and needs more of a public presence."


However, it’s unclear if construction will be complete by the March 31 deadline, when federal funds committed to the project are expected to expire.


"The timeline is under review," Friesen said, adding the department plans to build through the winter.


Station No. 11 at 200 Berry St. was built in 1912. The cost of maintaining the aging building is nearly equal to the cost of building a new facility. The site is less than half an acre in size.


The Portage facility is one of four new fire-paramedic stations slated for St. James, Charleswood, River Heights and Sage Creek. Construction of the latter three facilities has already begun and they are expected to be operational by next March.


The four stations will cost $15.2 million. Financing will include a $9.7 million low-interest loan to the city from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. The other $5.5 million comes from three existing city capital budgets from 2008 to 2010.


The location for the new 12,000-sq. ft. Station No. 11 was chosen based on computer models and historical response time data, and will feature four drive-thru style bay doors.


It will be designated as a so-called core area station, meaning it will serve downtown as well as St. James and River Heights, and will be equipped to handle hazardous materials and technical rescue.


New emergency lights will stop traffic on Portage Avenue when vehicles are responding to a call.  


Reid Douglas, deputy chief for Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, has previously said the new location will take the next 25 years into account, including the widening of Kenaston Boulevard and the St. James bridge.

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Twitter: @metroWPG

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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