St. Albert's first fire hall — the old Fire Hall #1 building — may be up for demolition, as the city has squared away funds to decommission the building in its 2022 draft budget.
Built in 1962 and located at 18 Sir Winston Churchill Ave, the Fire Hall #1 building is in the process of being replaced with a new location at 20 Gate Ave. Construction for the new location began in the fall of 2020, and is anticipated for completion in December of this year.
The city has budgeted $852,500 for the building’s decommissioning. The costs reflect the need to potentially remove fire equipment; disconnect and discontinue services such as power, water, and gas; any asbestos abatement needed; and ultimately, demolition of the building.
The budgeted amount also factors in potential soil or ground reclamation that would be required once the building is knocked down.
Future plans for the land are up in the air. Currently located on a 17.67-acre area called the Grenadier Park parcel, the land for the old location is designated as municipal reserve. This means its use is limited to school board purposes, housing a public park, a public recreation area, or as a separator for areas of land used for different purposes.
As part of the budget process, Coun. Ken MacKay asked city administration to provide an approximate value of the land if the city were to sell it “with or without the existing building.”
Everett Cooke, director of emergency services for St. Albert, responded with information that a recent estimate of an adjacent parcel puts the land at a value of between $1,219,680 and $1,568,160 per acre.
This would mean the 17.67-acre parcel of land is worth between $21.2 million and $27.7 million if the city were to sell it.
“If the city were interested in selling the land for a use other than listed, council would need to publicly remove the reserve designation,” Cooke said.
Further, a subdivision would be necessary to break up the land to prevent it from impacting the remainder of Grenadier Park, Cooke said.
Fate of Fire Hall up for debate
Two council motions are currently on the table for debate during the remainder of the budget deliberation process, which kicks off Dec. 2.
Coun. Sheena Hughes motioned for the decommissioning to be postponed for consideration in the 2023 repair, maintenance, and replacement budget.
Released Nov. 3, the draft budget slots $23.3 million for the repair, maintenance, and replacement of existing city infrastructure. Other budgeted items for 2022 include repair and renewal for municipal facilities, and roadway rehabilitation.
Coun. Shelley Biermanski motioned that $115,000 be approved from the city’s capital reserve to fund a feasibility study to consider converting the old building into an emergency homeless shelter. The study would also look at cost sharing and operating models with outside organizations.
On Nov. 23, Biermanski described the motion as “a preliminary idea,” and noted more will be understood when budget deliberations begin.
Additional budget deliberation will take place Dec. 2, 7, and 9. The budget is slotted for council approval on Dec. 20.