Fire training facility land amendment passes first reading

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Town Council gave unanimous first reading to a bylaw that would allow town property to be used for a new joint training facility for Morinville and St. Albert fire fighters. Council had previously given thumbs up Aug. 28 to allow the Morinville Fire Department to enter into a joint use agreement with their St. Albert counterparts, the first step necessary to establish the facility, proposed to be located just west of East Boundary Road.

The amendment to the Town’s Land Use Bylaw would allow for a discretionary use of the land within the Urban Reserve District to accommodate the training facility. With the passing of first reading the amendment will go to a public hearing Sept. 24, followed by second and third reading.

If passed, the proposed training facility project would develop through four stages over a three-year period. Stage one was entering into the joint use agreement with the St. Albert Fire Department. The second stage will involve preparing the site for use, including fencing, installing a smoke house used for practice, and constructing a Morinville / St. Albert Live Training Structure. The smoke house has already been acquired by the Morinville Fire Department. The training structure is to be obtained with St. Albert Fire Department grant monies and would allow fire fighters to train in an actual burning facility. The third and fourth stages of the training facility will involve acquiring additional training props for the two structures as well as an evaluation of the temporary facility. The temporary facility will also have space for vehicle extrication training, a skill set that is used on a full third of the fire department’s calls.

Both departments will contribute equally towards the estimated $25,000 for the first two phases of the project.

Morinville Fire Chief Ron Cust has said the facility would allow for cost-effective local training that would better enable his fire fighters to acquire the skills needed to perform their duties. It is training Cust feels is important as the community moves ever closer to a population of 10,000.

Funding resources for the first two phases of the facility would include in kind volunteer labour, revenues from the Fire Department’s calendar sales as well as a reallocation of $1,500 in training monies left over in the 2012 budget.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse, who was at Council as Capital Region Board chair, expressed his thoughts on the joint agreement. “I think it’s a perfect example of sub-regional [cooperation],” Crouse said. “We’ve probably got 30 sub-regional things that have happened in the last five years, some of which would have happened whether you had a Capital Region Board or not.”

He said he thinks there will be many more examples of sub-regional cooperation between municipalities. “I really do thank Morinville for being a part of that,” he said.

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