Lisa Gervais: What is the downside?
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 27, 2017
We have no problem taking a council to task when it’s done something wrong.
That’s why we’ve been dogged in our reporting of the Provincial Officer’s Order against Minden Hills concerning its operation of the Scotch Line landfill. And when our councils do something right, it’s only fair to point that out, too.
Such is the case this week with the new Minden fire hall.
The township held a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.
There were thumbs up all around. As there should have been. Not many councils today can build a $1.9 million facility without having to borrow money. Yet all of the cash for the new Minden fire hall is coming from reserves, because CAO and treasurer Lorrie Blanchard knew the day was coming and planned for it.
Critics out there are quick to say that the township doesn’t need a new fire hall and could spend that $2 million elsewhere.
The existing fire hall, at Prince Street and Pritchard Lane, is 44 years old. Water damage from the 2013 flood forced fire Chief Doug Schell out. He has to work in the council administration offices across the parking lot.
Water again covered the base of the building this past spring. It’s never good town planning to erect a fire hall on a flood plain. Fortunately the new station will be high and dry on Highway 35.
Then there’s the traffic. The Highlander was at the existing fire hall on Canada Day when a motor vehicle accident was called in. It was interesting to see the fire trucks try to weave their way through the Canada Day crowds on closed and congested streets to get to the call. This, too, will be a thing of the past once the fire hall is relocated to Highway 35.
Schell affirmed that it would be quicker to get to calls. Being adjacent to the EMS station also means that all three branches of emergency services in Minden will be able to respond in about the same time – fire, EMS, and OPP just down the road.There’s even an added bonus. Currently, there’s not much on 35 to announce to visitors that they’re in Minden. Soon, the two prominent civic buildings, EMS and fire hall, will give people the sense of a community that is tidy – and well prepared for an emergency.
We are keen to see what happens with the remainder of the county-owned land to the north.
As for the old fire hall, once the move is made next spring it would provide a perfect pavilion for the Minden farmers’ market or Minden artisans market or both. The farmers’ market in particular has been talking about more space but is adamant about staying downtown.
So, to the detractors out there we ask, what is the downside?
We have a new fire hall entirely funded from reserves. It gets trucks and firefighters out on the road faster. It creates an impressive gateway to the community. It addresses the fact Minden Hills is the fastest growing municipality in the county. And, the old fire hall could very well be reborn as a valuable venue for other town activities.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.