Connor Trembley, a Capital News reporter, was barred from attending a public meeting in West Kelowna on Thursday night about a controversial decision to relocate a fire station. (Connor Trembley - Capital News)

West Kelowna residents voice their opposition to new fire hall

A private meeting was held on Thursday night to discuss the future site of a new fire hall

West Kelowna residents got an opportunity to express their concerns about the relocation of a fire station during a private meeting Thursday night.

The meeting, which was attended by more than 30 people, was organized by the City of West Kelowna to talk about a controversial decision to relocate the Olalla Road fire station to Lakeview Heights.

Lakeview resident Tracy Spooner, who attended the meeting, said she is concerned about the impact the new fire station will have on traffic in the area as well as noise.

“The most immediate concern is the fact they are putting an institutional building into a pre-existing residential area,” said Spooner. “Even if they are the most considerate neighbour, that won’t prevent noise and large vehicles coming in and out of the facility at all hours. It’ll affect children sleeping at night. It’ll depreciate our home values and take our everyday enjoyment of living in our homes.”

READ MORE: City of West Kelowna fire station being relocated

READ MORE: Petition launched against location of new West Kelowna fire hall

Prior to the meeting, which was closed to the media, several residents also shared their frustration about the proposed plans.

One of those against the project included local resident Vincenzo Zumpano, who created an online petition against the new fire hall. The petition had 166 signatures as of Nov. 29

“No one here is disputing here that we need a new fire hall. What were disputing is that this proposed location makes absolutely no sense,” said Zumpano.

“The street isn’t set up for a fire hall, the section off of Boucherie and Stuart is too small for firetrucks and there is an environmental risk because there will be gas refuelling. Property values will also be impacted by this development, the list goes on and on.”

Zumpano said he also had concerns that the city has yet to announce a date for a public hearing to rezone the area for the new fire hall.

Lakeview resident Jeanette Girardi said the size of fire hall at the proposed location is also a problem.

“This is a ridiculous place to put a fire hall in a residential area. They’re not just putting in a fire hall, they’re putting in a giant training centre.

“The location is on a giant hill and it has quite a high crest to it. For firetrucks trying to go down that hill in the winter, that is one steep hill. The area doesn’t have enough room for them to even do turnarounds.”

“We only just found out about this.”

Girardi said the city could’ve also bought more suitable commercial property for the proposed fire hall on Stevens Road in West Kelowna.

According to the city, the fire station on Olalla Road needs to be moved to Lakeview Heights because it has passed its life expectancy and is unable to accommodate the needs of the community of Westbank First Nation.

If approved, it will be built on two parcels of land at 2509 and 2515 Harmon Road.

Detailed design of the new fire station is expected to begin in 2020, but a timeline for its construction has not yet been determined.

West Kelowna chief administrative officer Paul Gipps, fire chief Jason Brolund and Jason Luciw, communications and grants coordinator for the city, were in attendance for the meeting.

Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
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