Tons of people packed the new Tuscany Fire Station in northwest Calgary to celebrate its opening on Saturday.
The building is located at 275 Tuscany Way N.W. and will serve four northwest communities with over 30,000 people: Tuscany, Rocky Ridge, Scenic Acres and Arbour Lake.
“In this station area alone, there were nearly 450 calls for emergency help over the past year,” said Fire Chief Steve Dongworth. “Everything from fires and life-threatening medical incidents to animal rescue and motor vehicle collisions. We are here to serve the community.”
That’s evident in the building’s design, which includes social spaces like the outdoor public fitness facility, bookable community meeting rooms and satellite offices for city employees.
“We designed this space to be a community hub,” Dongworth said. “We want to create that bond with communities.”
Dongworth expects to see significant improvements in response times — the target is seven minutes.
After a public consultation process, people have created a modern, sustainable and community-focused fire station, Dongworth said. It is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certified, which means the building is green, equipped with features like site irrigation and high-efficiency water and light fixtures.
Dongworth called the station a milestone and spoke of the Indigenous connection to the site. A mid-2000s archaeological dig at Twelve Mile Coulee revealed evidence of Indigenous people inhabiting the area for 8,000 years.
“Which is incredible. That’s pre-contact with all of us who came to Canada,” Dongworth said.
“The fire department, as with the City of Calgary feel it’s very important to reach out and reconcile with our Indigenous neighbors, and this just seemed to all combine in this facility for that reason.”
At Saturday’s opening event, residential school survivor Rod Hunter blessed the station, smudged a fire truck and hosted a round dance.
The $16.4 million in funding for the project came from the Alberta government and the City of Calgary. The province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative contributed $2.9 million and the city’s portion includes $11.3 million from the Community Recreation Levy fund — fees collected from developers for building public infrastructure in new communities. The remaining $2.2 million came from taxes and other sources, a news release said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the new fire hall is an investment in safety and community livability. This project envisions fire halls in a different way, he said.
“Instead of being sole-purpose buildings closed off to the community, we’ve started to think of them as investments in the community,” Nenshi said. “And this is the fire hall that’s been built with that new philosophy.”