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Monday, August 15, 2022
NOTL council to look at 40 years of Queenston fire station reports

Niagara-on-the-Lake town council is set to hear a cumulation of almost 40 years of reports regarding the Queenston fire station in February.

Fire Chief Rob Grimwood prepared the report, which council will use to plan its next steps in deciding the future of the building, which is reaching its age limit.

“I don’t really know what’s going on, in the sense that all that’s happened is council made a motion asking me to prepare a report that provided them with all previous reports related to the fire hall. So there hasn’t been any discussion, there’s no staff report, there’s no analysis, there’s no recommendations,” said Grimwood during an interview.

“It’s an older building and it’s been talked about several times over the years — you know, ‘what do we do with the building? Do we keep putting money into it? Do you build a new one? If so, where?”

As far as he knows right now, council just wanted to see all the previous information.

“It was a crazy report to write,” Grimwood said. “I found the documents from 1971 were the oldest, so really all I did was I tried to put everything together that we had in archives, present it to them, let them read it as background … I suspect if anybody wants to move forward with any sort of analysis or a recommendation on next steps, they’ll ask for a staff report.”

In the past council has talked about combining the fire halls in Queenston and St. Davids, whether it be closing both and building a new station, or closing Queenston and having trucks dispatch from St. Davids.

Grimwood said right now it’s “way too early” to make a recommendation on what should happen.

Tthe current Queenston fire hall, having been built around 1977, is nearing the end of its intended life cycle, he added.

“Fire stations are generally built to last about 50 years … 42 years, it’s getting there,” Grimwood said.

As far as what might come of the report, Grimwood said it’s “way too early” to speculate about what he thinks should happen.

“To provide council with a recommendation like that, there would be a lot of consultation and a lot of analysis. I would have to engage the Fire Marshal’s office … I would have all kinds of mapping exercises conducted. It would be an expensive amount of work for me to come back to council and provide one of those recommendations.”

An important part of making any recommendation on a future fire hall would be finding out about expected population increases, Grimwood added.

“The planning department would have to provide to me with what they believe the future growth is going to be over the next 50 years, and there would be a lot that went into that decision.”

He said if asked by council, he’s prepared to put together such an analysis.

Council will hear the report Feb. 4.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero said as far as she’s aware, the motion for the report was not intended to worry volunteer firefighters.

“This was not intended to put fear into anyone, because I still firmly believe that all the fire halls we have need to be maintained and need to stay. So it would not be my intention to start reducing services within the fire department at all.”

She said if there are going to be major repairs, the town will have to find the money somehow.

“We’re now paying for a lot of decisions that weren’t made — and I’m not saying just the last four years— over many years, so with people trying to keep taxes low, we are now paying the price for it. But I refuse to carry on that debt to people who will come after us. So we have to make that budget sustainable.

Grimwood said in the last four years “not much” has been spent on the fire hall upgrades and renovations.