A new fire and paramedic station for Minnow Lake at an “ideal location” was greenlit by city council during Tuesday’s meeting.
The decision followed a debate regarding what an “ideal location” should be, with Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc making an unsuccessful pitch for it to be in the Minnow Lake neighbourhood.
Specifically, he said it should be located south of The Kingsway.
Fire and Paramedic Services Chief Joseph Nicholls pushed back, arguing against hamstringing the new building to a specific location.
“I understand the feeling or sentiment that (residents) believe this is a Minnow Lake station and it’s Minnow Lake’s station,” he said.
“It is a station in a system of stations that responds all over the community ... I would be concerned with not having an ideal location.”
A report by Operational Research in Health Ltd. noted that an ideal site for the Minnow Lake station would be two kilometres north of its current location, close to the junction of The Kingsway and Falconbridge Road.
“Minnow Lake station is the only career station where the ideal site is a significant distance from the current station location,” according to the report.
Nicholls clarified that staff haven’t pinpointed an exact site yet, but that he wanted the flexibility to build the station on the most ideal property they’re able to secure.
Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh joined Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti in speaking against city council dictating where emergency services stations should be located, arguing that professionals in the field are better equipped to determine the best locations to reduce response times across the network.
Speaking in favour of Leduc’s motion to locate the new station in the Minnow Lake neighbourhood, Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier said, “I will support the people of Minnow Lake, because it is definitely a Minnow Lake station.”
The only other elected official to support Leduc’s motion was Ward 7 Coun. Natalie Labbée, meaning it was defeated 9-3.
The motion to proceed with a new Minnow Lake station at an ideal location was supported by a vote of 11-2, with only Montpellier and Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini voting no.
The new Minnow Lake station is estimated to cost $8.4 million, which will be baked into the city’s upcoming draft 2024-27 capital budgets.
Tuesday’s decisions regarding emergency services infrastructure was an extension of those that took place on June 27, when the city’s elected officials voted to keep the Beaver Lake and Skead volunteer fire stations open.
In addition to building a new Minnow Lake station at an ideal location, city council voted on Tuesday to:
- Renovate the Long Lake station to be used by both fire and paramedic services, with its cost baked into the 2024-27 capital budget. The total redevelopment cost is estimated at $8.9 million.
- Vagnini was the only member of city council to vote no.
- Renovate the Van Horne station to be used by both fire and paramedic services, with its cost baked included in the 2024-27 capital budget. The total redevelopment cost is estimated at $13.8 million.
- Vagnini was the only member of city council to vote no, after which he could be heard saying, “I’m going to go out and drown myself in the hot tub right now.”
City council also voted to defer various other proposed changes to emergency services infrastructure to capital budgets beyond 2027, including:
- Renovate Leon Street (New Sudbury) station (estimated to cost $7.44 million)
- Renovate Azilda station ($4.8 million)
- Renovate Chelmsford station ($11.8 million)
- Renovate Levack station ($5.26 million)
- Renovate Capreol station ($6.4 million)
- Once renovation to Capreol fire station is completed, relocate Capreol paramedic station (Young Street) into Capreol fire station and close Capreol paramedic station.
- Build new Wahnapitae/Coniston station ($9.6 million)
- Once construction of the new Wahnapitae station is completed, consolidate existing Wahnapitae and Coniston stations into the new station location, and close the existing Wahnapitae and Coniston stations.
- Build new Lively station ($10.8 million)
- Once construction of the new Lively Station is completed, consolidate existing Waters, Lively, Copper Cliff Stations into the new station location, and close the existing Waters, Lively, Copper Cliff stations.
Although the city’s elected officials have made several decisions regarding emergency services infrastructure, they will still need to be ratified during upcoming budget deliberations. A draft 2024-25 operations budget and 2024-27 capital budget will be tabled on Nov. 15, and debated by city council members the following month.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.