New Cornwall fire station would increase coverage by 25%

Cornwall Fire Department Chief Pierre Voisine. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The city’s fire chief says the new Cornwall fire station and training center at the corner of Tollgate Road and Brookdale Avenue would increase fire response coverage by 25 per cent.

Pierre Voisine told city councillors Monday night, 69 per cent of city is covered with a six minute response time right now. With the new station, that would increase to 94 per cent within the 62 square kilometers it covers.

Voisine admitted that he was disappointed with the lack of public engagement through their open house, which happened around the time of the last municipal election. The chief thought they did a good job advertising the open house in social media and newspapers. “It just seems it’s not an issue with the people who elect us,” Coun. Claude McIntosh surmised.

Thirty six people showed for the open house. Thirty were firefighters. Council learned last night that half of that balance were Glen Grant, Eric Bergeron and his wife.

The new station, which would replace the location at 10 Fourth Street West, is expected to cost nearly $9 million and will be built by sometime next year.

Coun. Eric Bergeron scolded the fire chief and the consultants (Colliers International), calling the entire process backwards and that the business plan should have been public before buying land or proceeding with the project.

“I’m very disappointed with this presentation,” Bergeron said, noting that it didn’t touch on public safety, response times or the actual cost of the land, which the city has owned for a month-and-a-half.

The chief explained that the response times were addressed during the 2015 Fire Master Plan, which made recommendations on an enhanced two station model, and Colliers was hired specifically to find a location based on the response time model.

As for any possible neighbourhood opposition, which Colliers identified as a potential threat to development around Tollgate and Brookdale, Voisine said he had got “a few phone calls” with questions from that neighbourhood. But at the public meeting “they didn’t show up” or “I don’t know how many showed up,” he told council.

The $9 million price tag is an estimate based on similar fire halls built in other municipalities in the last two years, Colliers explained.

The project is now expected to go to a request for proposal (RFP) to design and build it.