Area councillor calls for local fire hall in light of high-rise blaze near U of M

A fire is shown at a highrise under construction in Winnipeg on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. Flames from a burning student housing highrise that's under construction lit up the sky in Winnipeg overnight, and forced the closure of a major thoroughfare on the city's south side on Saturday. The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says crews responded to the blaze at the 15-storey tower on Pembina Highway, across from the University of Manitoba, at about 12:30 Saturday morning. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Janice Lukes

A weekend fire at a high-rise under construction on Pembina Highway is a sign that the city could use another fire hall, according to the area’s councillor.

The building, called The Arc, was intended to open in August and provide housing for more than 500 students at the nearby University of Manitoba.

Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) told 680 CJOB the incident highlights the lack of fire resources in the neighbourhood.

“When these buildings are being built, it’s the most highly vulnerable time that fire can occur, because they don’t have their fire suppression sprinklers in or all of their fire retardant walls,” said Lukes, who said the incident makes her nervous about the numerous other upcoming construction projects she’s approved for the area.

“I’ve been talking about this, asking, pressuring, requesting, but it’s gotten to the point where… enough already! We need a fire hall in Waverley West.

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“We can’t keep growing as a city, welcoming 11,000 people a year… we’re building all these developments, and the response time is dropping annually from the fire halls.”

READ MORE: Crews battle large fire at Winnipeg building under construction

Click to play video: 'Smoke billows from Winnipeg building under construction after large fire' Smoke billows from Winnipeg building under construction after large fire
Smoke billows from Winnipeg building under construction after large fire – Dec 21, 2019

Lukes, who said she’s been working for the past three years on getting the much-needed student housing in place, said she’ll be meeting with the building’s owner to determine how much of a setback the fire caused. The building itself isn’t in jeopardy, she said, but the timeline will likely be impacted.

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“One would think he’s highly motivated to get this done for the fall term. That’s the time frame, originally, that it was going to be open. Maybe the building won’t be the complete 16 storeys. Maybe it’ll drop a couple storeys, maybe the damage wasn’t that bad.

“I feel emotionally attached to this building,” she said. “It’s going to solve a huge problem – it will make a huge dent in our illegal rooming house situation once it’s up and running, because it’s purpose-built. It’s strictly being built for students.”

Construction firm Ledcor said on the weekend that it will be working with the fire department and Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health to determine the cause of the fire and assess the damage.

There were no injuries as a result of the blaze.

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Click to play video: 'Fire burns at top of Winnipeg building under construction' Fire burns at top of Winnipeg building under construction
Fire burns at top of Winnipeg building under construction – Dec 21, 2019

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