District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services will soon have a new $48-million home in Maplewood.
District council has now awarded contracts for construction on new headquarters in combination with a fire hall and training facility at the end of Old Dollarton Road. The facility will replace the current Fire Hall No. 2 on lower Mountain Highway and fire training centre on St. Denis Avenue.
“This facility is a legacy for the District of North Vancouver,” said Chief Brian Hutchinson. “This is a key piece of infrastructure for the District of North Vancouver that will serve the community now and for decades to come, which is a great investment in the community as we continue to grow.”
The roads between the Maplewood area and Mountain Highway are notoriously congested, but Hutchinson said their analysis shows there will be faster response times once the move is made.
“We looked at that very closely with our traffic flows,” Hutchinson said. “To make the move, it had to provide response efficiencies for us. We wouldn't have done it if we felt that it would have detrimental impacts to any of our any of our residential areas.”
Mayor Mike Little agreed the district will be a safer place when the new facility opens, especially for those living east of the Seymour River. The area west of Mountain Highway is largely covered by North Vancouver City Fire Department while eastern neighbourhoods were relatively underserved, Little said.
“We saw the opportunity to consolidate facilities as being something that would benefit the community,” he said. “Obviously, the biggest issue is definitely going to be that the service areas moved into the district.”
The new facility will have state-of-the-art practice props, including a simulated single-family home, a commercial building and a multi-storey apartment, which Hutchinson said will help his crews hone their skills during their many hours of training.
The property will also have a wildlife corridor along the north end, and the building will have classrooms available to the community, Little added.
In January, the district began remediating the site, which previously had been used from 1960 until the late 1980s as the municipality’s dump for refuse from public works projects. Contractors had to haul away between 5,000 and 6,000 truckloads of junk and contaminated soil.
But the site is shovel ready now, Hutchinson said, and they are hopeful the new fire hall and headquarters can be online within 18 months.
It will be up to district council to decide what to do with the Mountain Highway and St. Denis properties once the fire facilities are decommissioned. Little said council has earmarked both for “deep dive” affordable or supportive housing.
Plans for a new fire hall have been in the works for years, and Hutchinson said thanks are owed to council and everyone involved.
“The fire chiefs before me and the other members of the command staff have been working for several years to bring this to fruition, to make sure that it meets the needs of the community and meets the needs of the fire department today and into the future,” he said. “I'm very appreciative of all the work that came before us.”