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East Sooke referendum approves borrowing to build new fire hall

East Sooke residents have voted overwhelmingly in favour of borrowing up to $2.12 million to build a new fire hall.
East Sooke residents have voted overwhelmingly in favour of borrowing up to $2.12 million to build a new fire hall.

There were 339 votes for and 138 votes against the move in Saturday’s referendum, said Mike Hicks, CRD regional director for the Juan de Fuca electoral area.

The decision comes nearly 20 years after the provincial fire commissioner recommended the move.

“I’m very excited about it. I think it’s a great thing for the community and I think it’s something we’ve needed for some time,” said Dirk Braunschweig, chairman of the East Sooke Fire Protection and Emergency Response Service Commission.

The existing hall on Coppermine Road, built in 1985, has only three bays for fire trucks. That means a first-responder vehicle must park outside and its equipment must be stored in the hall instead of being on board and ready to go.

A 2008 analysis of the site by architectural and engineering firms found the hall “significantly below standard” for being too old and small, among other things.

When it was built, the department had only one truck and served 550 residents across 2,130 hectares, a report on the CRD website says. By 2012, the population had reached 1,750 spread over 3,035 hectares.

The CRD has worked with the commission for four years on the plans. The project is projected to cost taxpayers about $263 per average household. The loan is to be paid back over 15 years.

The new hall will be built several hundred metres from the existing one, along the same street toward Gillespie Road, on property already owned by the CRD and the fire department. Construction could begin as early as this fall. —Times Colonist