Construction of a new fire hall at Loon Lake, which was expected to start in spring 2021, has been delayed after the bids to build it came in higher than expected.
“We went to tender on BC Bid, and the lowest tender was still higher than what the budget called for,” says Ian Dalgleish, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s (TNRD) Manager of Capital Projects and Facilities.
The fire hall was destroyed in the 2017 wildfires, and the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department has been operating out of a two-bay garage on the site of the former hall. Following a referendum in 2018, the TNRD assumed fire protection services for Loon Lake, and last year announced that it had secured a 30-year Crown Lease for a 2.64 acre site that was formerly part of Loon Lake Provincial Park.
In 2018 Fraserway RV, through the Adventurer Foundation, committed $275,000 towards the construction of a new fire hall in Loon Lake, a project that the TNRD estimated at the time would cost approximately $500,000. The TNRD had asked Loon Lake residents for permission to borrow $650,000 to build the new fire hall, but Dalgleish says that the lowest tender came in at just under $1.6 million. “I was thinking it would be around $1.3 million, but that got blown out of the water.”
The new site — located on the far side of the road from the lake — is located approximately halfway along Loon Lake, within eight kilometres of the most populous area of the community.
“We set to work on trying to get a design to fit that property, which has proven to be challenging because of the slope, and overburden on it that needs to be removed to make it a suitable building site,” says Dalgleish. “The prices we got reflected that. It’s disappointing, but I’m not overly surprised.”
He says that the TNRD is now exploring other options to move the project forward.
”I’ve met with senior management and told them where we’re at, and we have our thinking caps on to see what we can come up with and what the next move on this is. Do we look at a redesign on the building, something a little smaller? Can we get any in-kind donations, or look at a different property?”
Dalgleish adds that they would have to see if another property is available, and what the cost of that would be. “We have tenure on the [current] property; the government leased it to us for $1 for 30 years, so it was ‘free’, but we had to get it surveyed and do some archaeological work on it.
“There’s a lot of stuff we’re batting around right now, to figure out what our next steps are. We’ll know more in the next couple of weeks.”