MRO Magazine

To demolish or not to demolish? West Lincoln considers what to do with old fire station

September 23, 2023 | By Abby Green

A seemingly simple request from West Lincoln’s fire department turned into a large debate at a recent committee meeting.

At the Sept. 18 Administration, Finance, and Fire committee meeting, acting fire Chief Tim Hofsink presented a request to keep the “old” Fire Station 2 standing for training use.

In 2019, the township determined they needed to build a new Fire Station 2. In May 2022, it was determined that the new station would cost $3,950,000 to build, and a construction tender was awarded to Niacon Construction.

Hofsink’s request to council was to allow them to continue to use the two northernmost bays of the old building as a training space while demolishing the rest.


“The intent of retaining a portion of the old building is to provide firefighters in West Lincoln an all-weather usable training space in our own municipality,” the report reads. “This proposal will cost $115,000 plus HST. Financing for the project is possible within the scope of the approved budget for the current new fire hall build underway in Caistor Centre.”

The second option he presented was to demolish the entire building, which was council’s original plan.

Hofsink said the company doing the building is willing to do the partial demolition, and since the funds are available within the project’s current budget, it wouldn’t cost anything extra.

But councillors quickly realized this wouldn’t be following their proper protocols, as any project over $100,000 has to be put to tender to allow other companies to put in bids.

Coun. Joann Chechalk was the first to point it out.

“There are demolition companies out there that will demolish buildings that are specialists in demolition, not construction,” she said. “It just came to light just as our acting chief was speaking (to) that. Do we not have to tender that? It’s a separate item. It’s in the budget, but it wasn’t (our original) decision.”

Hofsink said as Niacon was already on site and willing to do the demolition, it might be easier if they took it on, but he was willing to do whatever council wished.

Additionally, Mayor Cheryl Ganaan wondered why this was being brought forward “so late in the game”.

She was frustrated because if they didn’t support keeping the old facility, it could look like they didn’t support the fire department. But as they were told the old building was falling apart, she was worried about what keeping it around would cost residents in the future in maintenance.

“We all drank the Kool-Aid, so to speak, about how bad that facility was and did not doubt for a moment that the need was there, she said. “So now, when part of it can be salvaged, it reminds me a little bit, quite honestly, of what happened with our old arena and the fact that there was a group who came forward at the ninth hour wanting the old arena to be saved and didn’t really consider the fact that it would then be an asset that had to be managed by the township.”

Hofsink said they could use the old building for training without heating and hydro, so he didn’t think it would cost the township much to maintain. But Chechalk worried if the building would fair overwinters with no heat and maintenance.

Ultimately, council voted to refer the motion back to staff for more information.

The old Fire Station 2 is located in the township’s former public works building, which was constructed in 1959. The report put before council said while the building has served well, it was not built for use as a fire hall.

“With the growth of the station complement and acquisition of necessary equipment, the facilities for training, meeting, and social events have proven to be insufficient in size and have many of the challenges that come with an older building,” it reads.

The new facility is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.
Abby Green, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GRIMSBY LINCOLN NEWS


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