A second phase of renovations that would alter the administrative side of Merritt’s fire hall will sit on the shelf for at least another year.
In the five-year financial plan passed by council last year, phase two was scheduled for 2016, but the city has not set aside any funds for this project.
Undertaking the alternative approval process — which requires 10 per cent of the voting public disapprove of the project to see it nixed — is required before the project gets off the ground.
The fire hall recently underwent phase one of renovations which involved adding another truck bay to the facility. Those renovations cost approximately $450,000.
City of Merritt financial director Sheila Thiessen told council at its budget meeting last Wednesday (March 2) that staff felt it was appropriate to take its time to build a proper business case before going to the public.
Thiessen told the Herald the city also intends to consider what the best timing for the project would be in relation to other projects.
She said that under its new management structure the city is trying to ensure it has the capacity to take on large projects before starting them.
“We might be required to bring in consultants or somebody to manage the projects, depending on the expertise and what’s required,” Thiessen said.
Phase two of fire hall renovations would involve creating a two-storey 10,000 square-foot wood frame building next to the truck bays, Fire Chief Dave Tomkinson told the Herald.
Some major aspects of the renovations include creating a dormitory for work experience firefighters, a turnout gear storage room and a decontamination room — which would be a major improvement on the department’s current setup for when firefighters return to the station with undesirable materials on their gear that need to be cleaned off.
“We do have a washer, but it has to dry here in the station, and so constantly those chemicals are being dispersed into the fire station itself, and sometimes we’re out on the front tarmac on the asphalt washing and scrubbing,” Tomkinosn said.
“The idea is to make the single fire station model viable for many years ahead,” Tomkinson said.