The Bracebridge Fire Department’s station two, located along Highway 118 East across from Bird Lake Road, could be moved to a new location.
Council approved having Fire Chief Murray Medley, Stephen Rettie, the town’s Chief Administrative Officer, and Paul Judson, the town’s Director of Finance and Treasurer, look into finding a new location for station two. A report would then be presented to the town’s General Committee at a later date.
There were three options put forward to council by Medley along with Gerry Pingitore, an advisor with The Loomex Group and retired Fire Chief for the City of Ottawa but moving the station to Uffington was the recommended idea.
After a lengthy discussion about whether a new station in that area would be best suited for Bracebridge, an amendment was put forward by Councillors Barb McMurray and Don Smith asking that the property be positioned to allow for the southeast quadrant of the town to get the most effective level of service.
All councillors were in favour of that and the subsequent motion.
Medley and Pingitore presented their report to Bracebridge’s General Committee Tuesday. Loomex previously worked with the fire department for its master plan that was released in October 2021.
One of the recommendations in the plan was to figure out the best steps forward for station two, which Medley believes, based on the station’s age, functionality, and space limitations needs to be moved from its current location.
The 1,680 square foot building was built in 1982. It’s stated in the report that the station’s initial estimated useful lifespan was 30 years. It currently has one Station Captain, one Acting Captain, and eight firefighters, but Medley says the “ideal number” of staff at the station would be 15. The station also houses one pump truck and one tanker.
“We shoehorn two trucks into [the station] and that’s it,” Medley said. “There’s hardly enough room in there for firefighters to restock their trucks after a call.”
Between 2017 and 2021 there were 117 calls that the station responded to with 66 within the station’s coverage area. Medley explained the coverage area is defined as places firefighters can reach within 10 to 12 minutes. When factoring in station one, which is located at 225 Taylor Road, the fire department responded to 1,414 calls during that time period.
Pingitore outlined in his report that the new station would have access to 1,716 properties and 24 commercial properties on Ecclestone Drive within 10 minutes and an additional 766 properties and the remaining commercial buildings on Ecclestone within 12 minutes. The current location is able to reach 786 and 1,090 properties within 10 and 12 minutes respectively.
“If you’re going to build a fire station somewhere, you want to serve a larger portion of the community and this was clear that the Uffington site, in particular, would do this,” Pingitore said.
Prior to the fire department’s station one, which they share with Muskoka Paramedic Services, opening in October 2018, a working group was formed to help move the design and build process forward. Medley said the same will be done for this.
In the town’s 2022-2031 Long Term Capital Plan, $250,000 is set aside for land acquisition for the new station two in 2023 with an additional $525,000 set aside for construction the year after. No money was set aside for the project in the town’s 2022 budget.
As outlined in the report, funding could come from development charges, the sale of the current building where station two is located, and money being taken from the fire department’s reserve.
Medley pointed out that moving the station to Uffington is recommended, but the other option, which would see the station moved to a location at Conway Cresent and Milne Road, is not out of the question. “There’s a whole bunch of variables that need to be factored in,” he said.
Rettie added that the purpose of this discussion was to give staff direction for their eventual report to council at a later date detailing the next steps.