On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Marianne Cole, on behalf of the Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association, made a presentation to Clearwater County Council on the proposed plans for the new fire hall at Leslieville.
Originally this current council passed a motion in August of 2018 to build a 10,000 sq. ft., 5 bay facility at Condor for $4M; and an 8,950 sq. ft., 3 bay facility in Leslieville for $2.1M.
Condor’s facility was completed in 2019. It sits on 8 acres of land and includes 10,000sq. ft. storage space (3 apparatus bays and 2 public works/ag.service bays) and 6,000 sq. ft. admin./staff space.
Recent plans have seen a drastic change in the plans for Leslieville and a dramatic increase in costs:
1. Purchase of 27.43 acres of land for $365,000, to be allocated as follows:
a. fire hall building site, parking area and fire pond = 7.25 acres;
b. future training area, including fire training tower = 12 acres;
c. future parks and sports field = 8.18 acres.
2. Site design/construction = $1, 056,000
3. Building = $3, 529, 000 (5 bay) and $3, 160,000 (3 bay)
4. Equipment = $170,000
5. TOTAL COST = $5, 120,000 (2.6 times greater than the original budget and $1, 317,000 more than Condor) Note: Not included in that figure is $500,000 for the training facility in 2021.
Justification of need for another large facility when a smaller one would suffice.
The need for two facilities in such close proximity---11km. apart. Other areas of the county are much farther away from ANY fire hall.
The need for a training facility when there is one in Red Deer that local fire fighters can access at a cost of $4800/yr. No need to spend $500,000 on a facility here.
The complete lack of figures/business plan related to the training facility.
The need for another 6,000 sq. ft. of staff/admin space in Leslieville when there is that much in Condor.
THE MOST CRUCIAL NEED TO BE FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE IN THIS CURRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION. The County is currently owed $6M in tax arrears for 2019.
Significant discussion by council followed the presentation and it was clearly evident that there was a divide on council--- the experienced vs. the rookies. The experienced councillors (Duncan, Vandermeer and Laing), most notably Vandermeer, expressed distinct concern for the definite need for figures related to the training facility along with the questionable need for over-spending on a large facility. The newer councillors (Laird, Lougheed, Hoven, and Swanson), along with county staff, focussed more on the emotional passions of ensuring support for our volunteers who willingly give of their time.
In the end, two motions were made:
1. Moved by Councillor Laing that council direct administration to re-design the fire hall for the hamlet of Leslieville, to be located on the newly purchased 27.43 acres of land and that this building with the land and site development not exceed $2.2M. DEFEATED 5/2
2. Moved by Councillor Laird that council advise administration to proceed with Plan 2 which includes tender grading plan for Phase 1 and advertising for an RFP for the Leslieville Public Services Building as described including a 3 or 5 bay option. PASSED 5/2
The timeline for the gathering of information and making of a final decision is about 5 weeks--- 3 weeks for advertising/receipt of RFP’s and 2 weeks for their evaluation and bringing the results back to council for approval.
Currently the CCTA is discussing further plans and options to encourage citizen engagement that would ensure council makes the most financially responsible decision, reflective of resident wishes. We would love to hear your comments and concerns. You may reply to this website or send an email to email@example.com.
IT IS ALL OF OUR TAX DOLLARS AT STAKE