A public safety centre that would house a multitude of emergency services in downtown Penticton is steadily moving towards reality.
The project, identified as part of the city’s asset and amenity project, received approval for $75,000 of design work in 2022 on Aug. 16.
The consolidated centre would provide a hub and single building somewhere downtown that would house the Penticton Fire Department’s fire hall #1, the city’s emergency operations centre and emergency support services, bylaw services and space for the RCMP’s community policing office to be moved from the detachment headquarters on Main Street.
City staff will also be exploring the inclusion of either commercial space or residential space in the building.
The idea of housing, despite its need in the community, did raise some eyebrows among members of council.
“There are significant comings and goings from a fire hall,” said coun. Judy Sentes. “To consider having housing above such a facility, I am concerned about that, the same as commercial use. Those emergency vehicles need not to have to worry about people being around them.”
The city’s fire hall on Nanaimo Avenue currently has 12 staff working out of the facility, but the size of its vehicle bay means that larger vehicles are stationed at Fire Hall #2.
According to city staff, the increasing number of buildings in the city that are considered high rises, being six-storeys tall or higher, means that the fire department is required to purchase a new 100-foot ladder truck in 2023, and there is no current space to store this truck at either of the current halls.
The $75,000 will go towards determining the space needed for existing services, as well as preliminary work to identify a location for the consolidated public safety services center.
The land analysis will look at both existing city-owned properties as well as potential areas that might be acquired for the project.
Ahead of the design and planning phase, which is expected in the third or fourth quarter of 2023, there will be a public engagement process. That process includes the involvement of the public on key decisions.
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