Williamstown fire hall could move to William Street

South Glengarry is contemplating using the public works garage on William Street in Williamstown, Ont., seen here in a CNW file photo, as a replacement for the existing fire hall on John Street. The move would also see the public works garage moved out of the hamlet. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – South Glengarry council is proposing to retrofit the Williamstown public works garage for a future expanded fire hall.

During last week’s council meeting, Fire Chief Dave Robertson said the idea was added after the engineer (EFI – Engineering For Industry) hired to plan a new fire station came across problems meeting provincial requirements for parking and septic on the existing property on John Street.

The preliminary design work has been expanded to look at using the public works garage on William Street, in addition to building on the existing site on John Street. The William Street building has two parts – one built in the 1940s and the other in the 1970s – but is considered structurally in good shape.

Increasing the scope of work has added $4,250 to the first phase of the work, which cost $49,980.

Fire Chief Robertson has already received word on what it would cost to build a new fire hall at the current roads facility on William Street, though he didn’t share any numbers with council.

“I’ve reviewed draft cost estimates…they need to be reviewed, but an initial glance showed that this revised direction would be a cost effective model for the Williamstown station and give the municipality a new facility in the roads maintenance garage, which would need to be reviewed in the future at some point anyways,” the chief said.

Those numbers will come in a staff report, possibly as early as the next council meeting.

South Glengarry is contemplating moving the Williamstown fire hall from its current location on John Street, seen here in a CNW file photo, to the public works garage on William Street. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

“Although we don’t have any firm plans, it was always something that we needed to consider…that a public works garage in the middle of a small hamlet in Williamstown is not necessarily compatible in many ways, noise being one,” Infrastructure GM Ewen MacDonald added in supporting the fire chief’s plan.

Robertson says he’s already passed on the idea to the firefighters in Williamstown who “all see the viability” of using the municipal works garage.

South Stormont recently built a 6,000 square foot, three bay hall in St. Andrews West for $1.7 million. When Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost suggested a $2 million budget, Robertson was quick to respond, suggesting it would be considerably less but was still hesitant to get into specifics.

He did say it was “fairly closely to what was initially discussed over the years for the fire hall only.”

“We would in essence me moving roads department vehicles out and emergency vehicles in. Of course, it has more space than we need…but by the time we renovate an area into training room and the facilities you need in a fire station it takes up 80 per cent of the building,” Robertson said.

Deputy Mayor Prevost agreed the roads garage “is not a fit for the village any longer” but it would need some work as a fire hall because “the looks” are an “eyesore”.

The other issue to be tackled will be finding a future site for a roads garage – Airport Road is a possibility.

When asked about public feedback, the fire chief said he would have “no issue” having a public meeting. He believed the plan would be “well received.”

The municipality could also stand to save some money as well by selling the John Street site for development, plus it would start collecting tax dollars from the property if its developed.