An artist rendering shows the North Oyster Fire Department’s new hall with four apparatus bay doors. The existing facility to the far right will also be renovated.

An artist rendering shows the North Oyster Fire Department’s new hall with four apparatus bay doors. The existing facility to the far right will also be renovated.

North Oyster’s new $2.7-million fire hall expansion long time coming

Firefighters responded to 200 calls last year

North Oyster Fire Department is receiving a belated gift for its 60th anniversary, a long anticipated new fire hall built on a neighbouring parcel of land and a retrofit of the existing facility.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” CVRD Area H director Mary Marcotte told the Chronicle. “Over the last number of years we have put the reserves in place and I’ve heard only one person say a negative about it since that time.”

The volunteer fire department celebrated 60 years servicing the community last summer.

Approximately $2.3-million of the total $2.7-million project cost is from reserves, including Gas Tax funding, while the remaining amount will come from short-term debt.

The debate, however, has raged on for over a decade among residents of the rural community over how to best pay for a new building on Yellow Point Road.

RELATED: North Oyster fire hall vote could get hot

A referendum defeated in late 2011 asked the community if they were in favour of borrowing up to $3,030,000 to build a three-bay replacement fire hall in North Oyster and a new two-bay hall at Coffin Point.

Prior to that, an ad-hoc citizens committee was set up in 2009 to review the proposed fire hall replacement after a 2007 proposal to build one fire hall was also defeated by the public.

Finally earlier this year, the CVRD was able to raise the maximum requisition limit by 25 per cent, setting it at the greater of $554,472 or 0.87999/1000 of net taxable value. Funds were also added to the CVRD’s reserves over several years through efficiencies found in the operations of the fire department.

A half-acre was recently purchased directly adjacent to the existing fire hall helping to facilitate the new expansion which got underway recently.

“At the end of the day the public was satisfied. It’s badly needed,” Marcotte added. “I think it’s going to be a very huge asset for the community as a whole because the fire department does so much more than just fight fires. I think it’s a very important step and will be something I’m sure that the residents appreciate.”

Last year, the North Oyster Fire Department responded to 200 calls, the busiest the crew of volunteers has been in the past four years.

The CVRD’s Fire Protection Service Coordinator and former North Oyster fire chief of almost two decades, Jason deJong said there have been some upgrades to the building since the mid-60s but now North Oyster has quite literally outgrown its hall.

“There’s only three apparatus truck bays that are pretty tiny, especially for modern trucks. The training room is extremely small, all the office administrative areas are extremely small,” he said.

Bay doors on the existing building are 10 feet versus 14 feet on the new one.

“The new building will have have an additional bay that will house a fire truck already in storage…and we’re attaching (the building) to the original hall and it will undergo a major renovation.”

It’s not unheard of right now for firefighters to have pull out the trucks and train on the dirty floor, or cram into a small room for meetings.

The new facility has a place for gear storage, shower facilities, radios, computers and perhaps most importantly somewhere to rest after returning from more demanding response calls.

The existing facility will have a new floor plan for offices and training as well as a revamp on the outside.

One of the major outstanding issues will be how to properly service Shell Beach Road which extends outside of the 8 kilometre fire underwriters response.

“We’ve concentrated our efforts back on looking after the main station first now and then we’ll in the near future probably tackle the fire service delivery down at Shell Beach as well,” deJong said.

At the far end of Elliot Beach is 12.5 kilometres away from the fire hall which translates into a 17 minute drive time.

Marcotte also said a second satellite station would be needed in the future.

“We definitely need to do that because there’s one way in and one way out unless you have a boat you can hop in,” she said. “You’ve got lots of infrastructure there that the First Nations have put in there.”

Look for the fire hall to be complete by later this year with the full project wrapping up early next spring.

Just Posted

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Digital Innovation Group supports digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

Emergency service vehicles respond to motor vehicle incident at Highway 1 and 1st Avenue in Ladysmith. (Submitted photo)
Truck hits person using mobility scooter at northern entrance of Ladysmith

One patient was transported to hospital in stable condition

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Conservation officers transported the bear to a wildlife veterinarian in Nanaimo for examination

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read