Maybe Cowboy Bob can help out the folks of Renfrew-Collingwood?
On Tuesday, Vancouver Councillor Suzanne Anton weighed in on the topic of Council spending up to $1.4 million additional tax dollars to restore Firehall No. 15. A project that my colleague Mike Klassen rightfully pointed out doesn't have the support of the Fire Chief, the Firefighters Union, or heritage advocates. It does appear to have the support of Vision Vancouver Councillor Raymond Louie.
Anton attempted to convince Council that before any action was taken to spend an extra $1.4 million tax dollars on this project, it should consult with the Firefighters Union and the City's Heritage Commission. Sounds like a reasonable request given the Heritage Commission has never been formally asked for their opinion regarding the merits of this proposal.
"I tried to convince my colleagues that we need to consult with both the union and Heritage Commission to get their feedback before we give final approval," says Anton. "Unfortunately, both Vision and COPE voted down my motion to consult with a couple of key stakeholders."
Critics are saying that Louie's proposal compromises community safety, it offends heritage buffs and it loses the opportunity to build an iconic new architecurally designed firehall. Architect Roger Hughes is one of the best in Vancouver having designed some beautiful public structures in the past. Given free reign, I'm confident he would design something that is both iconic, and functional.
Here were the amendments Anton proposed which were voted down 10 to 1:
That the updated final design with the retention of the heritage building be submitted to the Heritage Commission for comment.
That the architect be requested to prepare concept drawings for a new purpose built facility not incorporating the existing building.
That the alternative proposals be taken to the community for comment.
That the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services union and management be consulted and that their comments be included in the report back.
It is estimated that this project will cost city taxpayers approximately $10 million dollars to complete. The construction of a new building, which was recommended by the Fire Chief, could have saved taxpayers at least $1.4 million dollars. Given the budget crunch Vancouver Council is currently facing, you'd think they'd be watching every penny a bit more carefully.
In the famous words of Vision Vancouver Councillor Tim Stevenson, "it looks like they are just going to ram this through come hell or high water." Yup, certainly looks that way.