A plan to build a temporary ambulance station on Range Road was turfed this week following an overwhelming outcry from Takhini residents.
Less than a week after Emergency Medical Services held an information meeting with residents about the station, it decided to withdraw its zoning application with the city.
“At the last meeting we heard from residents they didn’t want the station there,” said Emergency Medical Services operations manager David Moriaux.
“We’re taking steps to withdraw our application from the city to rezone (the old mine rescue building on Range Road).”
The department is also cancelling a community meeting that was scheduled for next week, he said.
“I think it’s a good decision,” said Takhini West Community Association president Dan Cable, who spearheaded the community’s resistance to the proposed station.
“However, it still doesn’t address plans for the permanent ambulance station,” he said.
That station, planned for a site near the current Wildland Fire Management building on the Alaska Highway, won’t be ready for at least two years.
And, according to Cable, that location is still too close to his neighbourhood.
In the meantime, the department will be scouting out alternate options apart from the site on Range Road, said Moriaux.
But Moriaux wouldn’t go into details about where exactly it might be, other than to say they need a site where they can operate “as centrally as possible” and respond to calls along the Alaska Highway and Hamilton Boulevard.
Concerns about the Range Road location surfaced two weeks ago after Emergency Medical Services forwarded a zoning application to city council.
Days afterward, residents began to rally against the station, fearing it would bring excess noise and traffic to their area.
“Enough already! This area has already been hard hit with new development,” wrote Heather Dundas on the “Takhini Says No to More Sirens” Facebook group.
“We have the highway, Range Road, Two Mile Hill, the new fire station. EMS needs to back away from a bad plan.”
But it was the sirens that were the real problem for most residents. Emergency Medical Services estimated there would be, on average, three calls per day requiring a siren.
“We’re just concerned that this would be another set of sirens for the community,” said Cable, referring to the fire department at the top of Two Mile Hill.
He doesn’t believe there’s enough data to show that the Takhini area would be the most central location for calls.
“There were 5,033 calls made last year but EMS won’t tell us which neighbourhoods they’re going to,” he said.
He believes most of those calls aren’t going far down the Alaska Highway or out to community residential lots. He thinks most ambulances are attending the downtown.
But Moriaux predicts a station in the Two Mile Hill area would shave off anywhere from seven to nine minutes for an ambulance to attend to an emergency that isn’t near Riverdale.
The current ambulance station at the Whitehorse hospital is overcrowded and is just meeting the national average response time of nine minutes, he said.
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