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PoMo residents to vote on new fire hall

PoMo gets peek at preliminary design By Todd Coyne The Tri-City News Port Moody city council took the first step towards approving a new No.1 fire hall for the city, and now they're asking residents to take out a $16-million loan to pay for it.

PoMo gets peek at preliminary design



By Todd Coyne

The Tri-City News

Port Moody city council took the first step towards approving a new No.1 fire hall for the city, and now they're asking residents to take out a $16-million loan to pay for it.

A preliminary design for the replacement fire hall was green-lighted at Tuesday's city council meeting, initiating the next step of seeking the approval of the Inspector of Municipalities to let the city hold a public vote on whether city hall should borrow $16 million to foot the bill for the new hall's construction.

If approved, the proposed three-storey 2,392 sq. ft. Fire Hall No. 1 would be built on the site of the current No. 1 hall at Murray Street and Ioco Road with construction possibly beginning early next year.

Some defining features of the architects' plans include larger living and training quarters for firefighters and the addition of a fourth truck bay which would open onto Murray Street rather than the present Ioco Road entrance.

The current detachment was built in the early 1970s to serve 11,000 residents who then called Moody home. Today, the hall serves a population of 33,000.

For Port Moody Fire Chief Jeff Lambert, his biggest concern with having a new hall built is getting his firefighters out from under the dangers of their current digs.

"In a seismic event, if we ever had a shake I frankly don't believe our trucks would get out of the hall," Lambert told The Tri-City News. "And you know what? Trucks can be replaced but we've got a whole crew of firefighters in here and they know that they're living in a building that potentially could kill them."

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Port Moody residents may soon go to the polls to tell the city whether or not they want to borrow $16 million to build a replacement No. 1 fire hall.

City council has asked the Inspector of Municipalities to approve a referendum on the $16-million loan and, if approved, the vote could be held as early as May. The $16-million loan would cost the average Port Moody household $58.51 per year over 30 years to pay down an estimated annual service debt on the loan of $1,054,882.

This extra cost to taxpayers would likely be charged through a municipal tax increase of 4.01%, according to city documents. City councillors and staff at Tuesday's council meeting said that the Inspector of Municipalities could likely reach a decision on the vote within two weeks, and, if approved, the referendum would be held within eighty days of getting the go-ahead, said city spokeswoman Leslyn Johnson.

In order to pass, the referendum would require 50% of public support plus one vote.

Construction of the new fire hall, if approved, is slated to begin in early 2012 on the site of the current hall at Murray Street and Ioco Road. Built in the early 1970s, the current hall does not meet B.C. Building Code Standards.

Port Moody Fire Chief Jeff Lambert was hopeful Wednesday that residents would support the $16-million construction loan if asked to.

"If they don't know how bad our hall is, we're going to try to offer that information out to people to have a look. If somebody saw it, they'd understand. That's all I can really say."

tcoyne@tricitynews.com