Council moves forward with new fire hall despite lack of training centre

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By Nick Seebruch
Council moves forward with new fire hall despite lack of training centre
An artist's rendering of the proposed new fire hall.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council voted to keep moving forward with the proposed new fire hall in the north end of the city, despite the fact that a promised training facility is not included in the current design.

The lack of a training facility in the current design of the proposed fire hall, which would be located at the corner of Brookdale Ave. and Tollgate Rd., was quickly leapt upon by councillors.

Cornwall Fire Services (CFS) Chief Jeff Weber explained that adding the live fire training facility to the plans now would increase the cost by $2 to $3 million. The current cost of the project stands just shy of $10 million.

READ MORE: Council allows wiggle room on fire hall budget

“I do think a really large part of this was the training centre. I was disappointed not to see it,” said Councillor Eric Bergeron. “When I look at the budget, and see the $10 million, plus the $2 (million) we’ve already spent, plus now adding a training centre which is an unknown cost, I think we should hit the pause button on this project and look at it again.”

The land for the new fire hall was purchased in 2019 for $2 million. The cost of the project has already risen by roughly $900,000 since it was first presented in open Council in January of 2020.

RELATED: New fire hall to be at Tollgate and Brookdale

Despite the lack of a live fire training facility, Council decided to move forward with the project.

“I think the location is fine. I’m perfectly fine with it. The money is more than anticipated,” said Councillor Dean Hollingsworth. “If you don’t do this, then what are you going to do? If we do nothing, we leave the northern part of the city without as effective fire service as we’d like to have.”

Mayor Bernadette Clement said that delaying the project would see costs continue to rise, and pressed Chief Weber to return to Council with data showing the benefits of this investment, particularly how the new fire hall would affect CFS response times.

“This is a big cost for our community, so we need to hear exactly why this infrastructure is necessary to our community,” she said.

The new fire hall will replace the current CFS headquarters on Fourth St. E., which was first built in 1970 and will be closed upon completion of the new building.

Council voted in favour nine-to-two to proceed with formulating a Request For Proposal (RFP) for the construction of the new fire hall, with Mayor Clement and councillors Carilyne Hébert, Elaine MacDonald, Todd Bennett, Maurice Dupelle, Claude McIntosh, Glen Grant, Dean Hollingsworth and Syd Gardiner voting in favour with councillors Eric Bergeron and Justin Towndale voting against.

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