April 07, 2016 - 4:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - B.C. Hydro’s plan for a new substation is pushing the Kamloops Fire Rescue training facility across the road.
City real estate manager Dave Freeman says B.C. Hydro has a conditional purchase deal with the City of Kamloops for six acres of land, which includes the fire department’s training centre and a public works building used to repair large recycle bins.
Freeman says the deal includes $2.6 million to rebuild the training centre and public works building with the training centre using the lions' share of the funds.
Due to B.C. Hydro’s standard land purchase agreements, Freeman says the deal is largely confidential. He’s unable to comment on how much the city is receiving from the crown corporation for the land until it is a firm deal. He says it’s a conditional deal until October 2016.
“They’re doing land deals through out the province, so they’ve developed a standard land acquisition agreement,” Freeman says. “The process we worked on was over a period of four years. There was an original list of 29 sites. The site that we have tied up is their preferred location.”
While the amount the land was purchased for isn’t being made public at this time, he says the money will be transferred into a land sales reserve, which won’t effect the city’s budgeting or tax processes.
The deal was signed in January and the current fire training centre will close January 31, 2017.
Kamloops fire chief Dale McLean says the fire department is gearing up to get the new centre built quickly, as ground work, tendering and design still needs to be done. He says the fire department hadn't committed many resources to the project as they were waiting for word of the deal being completed.
“We’ve got a year from the time they completed the transaction with the city,” McLean says. “We get to continue in the existing facility until that time expires.”
He described the deal as a like-for-like build, with critical structures the current site has being built using the fund from B.C. Hydro, including a fire tower, burn building and classrooms.
McLean says this is an opportunity to improve aspects of the facility. Because the current facility grew over many years it wasn’t planned out ideally. He says there’s an opportunity for more efficient land use, new technology and the department’s two training officers to move to an onsite office.
He says the current site is very functional and is used to train other fire fighters in the area, but he sees the new facility potentially expanding that ability, which is positive because there aren’t many training facilities like Kamloops’s in the Southern Interior.
The new fire training centre will be built near the current centre, across a service road on a large piece of city property at the end of Bunker Road.
McLean says B.C. Hydro’s contribution to the new facility is non-refundable, so if they back out of the deal the city will still get the money.
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