Site for proposed new Victoria Fire Department headquarters would be adjacent to Pacific Mazda backlot on Johnson Street. Courtesy City of Victoria

Victoria to get new downtown fire hall and emergency centre

Johnson Street public safety building would include emergency operations centre, ambulance station

The Victoria Fire Department is getting a new main hall downtown as part of a $35.9-million mixed-use project.

The City of Victoria and the department announced the project this morning, for a new public safety building to be located on Johnson Street adjacent to Pacific Mazda, a short distance from the current No.1 fire hall on Yates Street.

“This is an inspiring development that will meet our needs today and well into the future,” said Victoria Fire Chief Paul Bruce in a release. He added that the department continues to pursue local and regional efficiencies as a way to provide a high level of emergency services.

“The inclusion of an Emergency Operations Centre capable of managing hazard response specific to the City of Victoria is a practical and effective improvement to the management of emergencies on a holistic level,” he said.

The project will be built under an agreement with Victoria-based Dalmatian Developments Limited Partnership, a joint venture between Jawl Residential and Nadar Holdings Ltd.

The facility will be located on Johnson Street as part of a new mixed-use development adjacent to Pacific Mazda.

The 41,700 square-foot facility, billed as a state-of-the-art, post-seismic rated building, will replace the current 26,700 square-foot fire headquarters built in 1959. The new centre will not only house fire and rescue services and an emergency operations centre, the B.C. Emergency Health Services has agreed to lease 3,200-sq. ft. of space for a stand-alone four-ambulance hall under a 20-year co-service agreement.

“We’ve taken an innovative approach to this project. We canvassed the private sector and said, ‘We need a fire hall, what are your ideas?,’” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “What has come back is a fantastic project with a high-quality local developer that will see a fire hall built as part of a mixed use project that will be much more cost effective to the city than a stand-alone project, or rebuilding on the current site.”

The City indicated that no property tax implications would be incurred for the project. In February 2016 council approved in principle using up to $30 million from the the City’s debt reduction reserve to procure a new fire department headquarters at either the existing site or a new site. That money did not include any land purchase costs or the construction of such multi-use components as the ambulance station.

Victoria council will consider the authorization of the funds during discussions of the City’s 2018 financial plan this Thursday (March 22) meeting. Dalmatian is expected to bring the overall project through the rezoning process, which includes the construction of the new public safety building.

The developer plans to submit a rezoning application within the next six months and if all the approvals are received, construction is expected to take approximately 28 months.

editor@vicnews.com

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