Lake Country volunteer firefighter Peter Whitfield says there are a lot of good memories in the old Winfield fire hall.
And he should know. In the late 1970s, Whitfield’s father was among the volunteer firefighters who built the last major addition on the aging building, adding to the original two-bay fire hall, built in 1959.
“There’s a lot of history in this building,” said Whitfield, a member of the Lake Country Fire Department for 15 years.
“I’ve been here for so long and I know so many firefighters who have retired and helped to build this. It’s been a great hall. And it will be sad to see it go. But it’s slowly falling apart. There comes a time when you need a safer and better place. It has served it’s purpose.”
The Winfield fire hall is the nerve centre and main fire hall of the three in Lake Country.
The halls work together with the Winfield location housing the administration in a separate building and operating the two satellite halls in Oyama and Carr’s Landing.
But what began as an operation that fielded just nine calls in its first year, the Winfield fire hall has turned into a high tech operation that had 451 calls in the first six months of 2015 alone and can have as many as 1,000 in an average year.
Most of the district’s equipment is also housed at the Winfield location but some of it has to be left outside due to space.
Last winter, the district’s water tender had to be kept outside but it suffered some weather damage. That promped the LCFD to purchase a large tent to park the tender under to shield it from the winter elements.
It’s these kind of Band-Aid solutions that have kept the Winfield hall going over the years.
But as the call volume rises, as there is more residential growth and more tourists on area roads and lakes, it’s becoming more and more evident the LCFD needs a new building.
“A fire hall in the Winfield area is dire at this point,” said fire chief Steve Windsor.
“We’re at a point where we will be bringing forward a recommendation on how to move the fire hall project ahead in the 2016 budget to get some design work to move it ahead.”
In 2008, Lake Country held a referendum asking residents to approve the borrowing of $4 million for a new fire hall. Held in conjunction with a municipal election, the fire hall was turned down by a vote of 675 to 625.
During the 2008, referendum the price of the land was included in the $4 million price tag.
The district now owns a four-acre parcel of land just blocks from the current fire hall.
A recent review of the potential cost of a new building pegged the cost at $4 million, according to Lake Country chief administrative officer Alberto DeFeo.
DeFeo also said the municipality will need to hold another referendum or an alternate approval process to get electors’ assent to borrow the money for a new fire hall.