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Talk of new fire hall location heating up

Fire department eyeing spot near Route 90 for Berry St. replacement, deputy chief says

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Fire official are eyeing a two-acre plot of land at Portage Avenue and Century Street for the relocation of Station No. 11 on Berry Street.


The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is hoping to build a new fire and paramedic station and fire museum inside the cloverleaf just west of Century Street, Reid Douglas, the services deputy chief, confirmed in an interview.


The plan is not yet finalized, and needs to go through several civic committees and public consultation before being approved, Douglas said.


"There’s a lot of public consultation to go through before we can solidify the site, but that’s where we’re looking at right now," Douglas said.


The relocation is one of four new fire-paramedic stations slated for St. James, Charleswood, River Heights and Sage Creek. All are expected to be built this year and to be operational by next March.


If all goes to plan, a new $4 million, 12,000 sq. ft. station will be built in the northwest corner of the cloverleaf next to the St. James Hotel.


Station No. 11 at 200 Berry St. was built in 1912, and the aging building has pushed the cost of maintaining the building almost near the cost of building new. The site is less than half an acre in size.


"It was the horse and wagons era so obviously it doesn’t meet our needs anymore. We’re very limited to what we can do in the station," said Douglas. "A lot of these stations were built before amalgamation and met the needs of community at the time. It’s certainly a majestic station, but it’s long since past its useful life."


The location was chosen based on computer models and historical response time data. It will be designated as a "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.


"We plan to keep as much of the landscaping intact. We want to utilize the site, but don’t want to use it in a large area," Douglas said. "We want to enhance (the land) with a beautiful building and beautiful landscaping, and think it will be a real showpiece."


The four stations will cost $15.2 million — including a $9.7 million low-interest loan to the city from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The other $5.5 million comes from three existing city capital budgets from 2008 to 2010, said city councillor Scott Fielding (St. James), chair of the city’s finance committee.


"They’ll be state of the art facilities," said Fielding.


Fielding added other sites for the Station 11 relocation were identified, but agreements fell through.
A number of community organizations have already expressed interest in the fire hall once it closes, Fielding added.


"A final decision won’t be made until the new fire hall is close to opening and we look at what’s best for the community’s interest," he said.


Phase two of the fire department’s plan for new stations includes the possible relocation of Station 19 at Whytewold Road and Lodge Avenue.


That won’t be decided until 2014, Douglas said.


"Once we can get Berry up, we can determine what our response times are into St. James, River Heights and downtown and be able to make a better determination then where it should go or if we can just rebuild on site."


That new station will cost $3.5 million.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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