Kelowna city council approved one of the biggest asks in the 2018 budget— upgrading the unmanned, volunteer Glenmore firehall to a fully staffed facility.
The city will hire 12 more firefighters for the station, buy a new fire truck costing $962,000 US and implement improvements to the Glenmore volunteer fire hall to make it a full-time fire station.
Mayor Colin Basran said despite the huge impact the three fire department requests will have on the 2018 budget “this is a necessary step.”
Council put off approval of the three requests in the 2017 budget saying they wanted to wait a year.
“I know it’s a big hit, but we need the services,” said Coun. Mohini Singh. “We need the manpower.”
The three requests account for 1.5 per cent of the 3.59 per cent predicted tax increase contained in the provisional budget council deliberated on Thursday at city hall.
Earlier this week, council was told by a consultant who conducted a value-for-money analysis of the Kelowna Fire Department, a new Glenmore fire hall should be located in the Glenmore and Watson Roads area for best coverage of the area and response times.
The city had previously been looking at putting the hall on the new John Hindle Drive once that road is completed.
It also said the fire department is being overtaxed by the amount of medical first response calls it has to answer.
The improvements to the existing Glenmore hall, along with the hiring of the new firefighters to man it and the purchase of the new fire truck, are viewed as a way of improving fire suppression coverage and response times until a new station is built.
The budget shows that hiring the new firefighters will cost the city $860,000 next year, because the firefighters will be hired part-way through the year. The ongoing cost will rise to $877,000 in 2019 and each year, from then on, the cost will be $1.3 million say city finance officials.
The upgrades to the currently unmanned Glenmore fire hall will cost $200,000.
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