Your edition of Nov. 28 featured an article on the proposed relocation of the Town of Sidney fire hall. Reasons seem to centre around the premise that the current fire hall, constructed only a few years ago, is now inadequate because of its susceptibility to earthquake damage.
Your article states Mayor Cross and council have, for some time now, given consideration to building another new fire hall at a different location. What should be of great concern is council has been in consultation with the Saanich School District Board of Trustees, discussing the option of using a part of the school grounds at Sidney Elementary School.
Within the past two years we have seen the replacement of North Saanich Middle School, the new structure being built on fields which the students of that school had used daily. It should have seemed logical at the time that the exercise fields which were taken would have been exchanged for the old school property for exercise areas. Apparently, this was not given much consideration, nor was a thought given to make the old property a green space. Rather, the school board, squeezed as always by the provincial government, found it expedient to sell the property, thus helping it in reaching its budget demands for this year. The Town of Sidney will now benefit financially by collecting taxes on the 37 proposed homes approved for the property.
The Town was short-sighted in losing the old North Saanich Middle School property as a perpetual green site, a public park which would have been enjoyed by future generations. In considering the new location for the fire hall to be on the grounds of Sidney Elementary, the Town council and the school board are again being short-sighted.
The schoolyard has always been well used by the hundreds of students at Sidney Elementary. The entire grounds are particularly well used in the warmer and drier months by the children each day and during the evenings of the week. As well, many adults use it for sports activities in the evenings.
Location, location, location. All of us have heard this expression. Where would be the best location for a new fire hall and the ambulance service? Placing them so close to the confusion and tight streets near Thrifty Foods would be ill conceived. Chose a more open space, less obtrusive to the flow of people and traffic, yet at a location which would give quick access to emergencies in all directions. Across the highway, diagonal to the corner of McDonald’s, exists a barren parcel of land which answers the needs. It would give immediate access to the highway, to areas of north, central or south Sidney and provide valuable back-up for any emergency need by the airport emergency services and the District of North Saanich. Where safety and service are of prime concern, this location deserves serious consideration.
Keep off the grass at Sidney Elementary School.
R. B. Burns