New building to stand up to earthquakes

If disaster strikes, look to the top of Two Mile Hill. Monday, the city unveiled architectural drafts of the public safety building it will erect beside Fire Hall No. 2.

If disaster strikes, look to the top of Two Mile Hill.

Monday, the city unveiled architectural drafts of the public safety building it will erect beside Fire Hall No. 2.

Construction could begin as soon as this month on the $10.2-million, post-disaster-standard building.

“I’m happy to see this come to fruition,” said fire Chief Clive Sparks

“It’s almost 20 years in the making.”

The public safety building will house the new headquarters for the fire department, city bylaw services and an emergency measures operations centre.

“This building will stand up after an earthquake and be fully operational,” said Charles McLaren, head architect for the project.

Sixteen years of working as a fire chief in Golden Horn gave McLaren the ability “to ask the right questions” about what should be included in the building, he said.

“The building is a huge improvement in size and scope over the burn hall.”

The 4,552-square-metre facility will include dorm rooms, large meeting spaces, apparatus bays for firefighting vehicles, a training tower for practice rescues, and radio and computer equipment for use in emergencies.

It will also have a lighter footprint.

“There are features in the building to make it as environmentally and energy-friendly as possible,” said McLaren.

Two feet of fiberglass insulation stacked below the roof, triple-paned windows, plenty of natural light and a solar wall to heat the ventilation system in the winter are some of the energy-saving features of the building.

It will also be the first time bylaw services will be accessible to people with disabilities.

The department will be on the ground floor of the public safety building, moving from its second floor location in the municipal services building downtown.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” said manager of bylaw services, John Taylor.

The structure, which has been in between draft and design stages for the last six years, is expected to be complete by the end of 2010.

Next week, council will vote on awarding the project to Ketza Construction Corp., the lowest of seven bidders.

“There doesn’t seem to be any reason why they (the city) wouldn’t go with Ketza,” said George White, manager of maintenance services.

“They’ve already been seen up here checking at the site.”

Fire Hall No.2 will remain in operation during construction of the building, meaning response times for firefighters will not be affected, said Sparks.

The fate of the Fire Hall No. 2 building is still uncertain. It may continue to be used by the fire department or be passed along to another city department, said Shewfelt.

Contact Vivian Belik at

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