Vale Island fire hall not for sale

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Town council has rejected the idea of selling the old fire hall building in Old Town.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Town council has rejected the idea of selling the old fire hall building in Old Town.

Town council has rejected the idea of selling the Old Town fire hall building which is no longer being used for that purpose but mainly for storage.

The idea was to sell the building to raise money to help purchase items in the capital budget.

Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind was a strong supporter of the idea.

“In our facilities, I feel there’s more than enough room for storage,” she said.

Jungkind also said the recommendation would give town administration more than enough time to sort out where things would be stored.

Coun. Steve Anderson also backed the idea, noting the equipment in the old fire hall could be moved elsewhere, and it would be an opportunity for the town to get rid of some clutter and become more organized.

“I do understand that it’s difficult to make a decision to divest ourselves of a building when we have it and we own it,” he said. “But if we were a bit more organized in the way we do things in our buildings and on our premises, I think there’s a lot of room available to store the equipment that is in the old fire hall.”

Mayor Brad Mapes also spoke strongly in favour of a sale, noting the town has a lot of storage space.

Mapes also pointed to the financial benefits of such a sale.

“One thing we have to look at is we’re looking at a huge project with the recreation centre,” he said. “We’ve kind of all known that we have to look outside the box and figure out how we can make this happen.”

Selling the old fire hall would save on insurance and fuel costs, he said. “But also if we sell that piece of property its value comes directly into capital for us, and it also brings us revenue off of taxation.”

Opposition to the sale was led by Coun. Vince McKay.

“The reality is the town owns the building,” he said. “It’s costing us very minimal.”

McKay said the building is also occasionally used by the town as a polling station and could be a key building for organizing an evacuation, if that is ever required.

A number of councillors, including McKay, unsuccessfully suggested that the recommendation be tabled and reviewed by the town’s protective services committee.

The proposed sale was rejected by a vote of five to two, with only Jungkind and Anderson in favour

Later last week, Mapes was asked about the council decision.

“To be blunt, I have to accept what council decided. They feel that there’s still a need for the Old Town fire hall,” he said. “But really I honestly believe that it’s the wrong move for our town. We have lots of space in other buildings.”

Mapes believes the issue will come up again in the future.

At the April 11 meeting, council did pass a motion to direct town administration to explore options to prepare the sale of the now-closed town hall/fire hall on Woodland Drive.

The motion passed by a vote of five to two.

Also at the April 11 meeting, council unanimously passed a motion to auction off all used and spare items that are surplus to all departments.

“One of the things that the town has done in the past is bought something new and then kept something old,” Mapes said late last week. “We just got to get away from the clutter stuff.”

–Paul Bickford