AH explores options for new Dorset fire hall
Algonquin Highlands council is taking a preliminary look for a location for a new fire hall and office space in Dorset.
Councillors discussed the matter during a March 7 meeting.
“So, I guess the question to council . . . one is sort of the consideration of rebuilding what’s there, modernizing it, or thinking of building bigger for the future,” said Mayor Carol Moffatt.
The current fire hall was built in 1979, with an addition constructed in 1995. The block-construction building has limited insulation and its current footprint and design mean that new washrooms and accessibility enhancements are not achievable in the space. A new fire hall would also include a bay for use by EMS for the housing of standby ambulances stationed in Dorset.
“I think there’s an opportunity to make a development on the existing site . . . that would accommodate any number of things we could talk about, and look at a separate property for fire [services],” said Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen.
The current fire hall is located in Lake of Bays township, but is on property owned by Algonquin Highlands. Half of Dorset sits in Algonquin Highlands, half in Lake of Bays township. Councillors mused about the possibility of some public space, or perhaps some housing, on the current fire hall property in the future.
A new complex would include a fire hall with EMS bay, along with office space for the Algonquin Highlands fire chief, training officer, and building and bylaw staff. Councillors agreed on looking for a property off of Dorset’s main street, where space is limited.
“We would want to stay somewhat close to the hamlet, for the response of the volunteers [firefighters],” said fire chief Mike Cavanagh.
“We’re talking about pieces of a puzzle,” said Moffatt, who stressed these were preliminary, high-level conversations and that there as a long way to go. When council makes a decision, then an architect will need to be hired, etc., and council will need to start budgeting accordingly.
“We can’t plan financially, even for the long term, until such time as there’s money in the budget to hire the architect to do the plans,” she said. “It’s like The House That Jack Built.”