The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service released an action plan Tuesday that includes reducing the number of stations in the city.
The plan includes cutting the number of stations in the city from 30 to 23 with an additional new station being implemented in Waverley West.
Under the proposal, some of the stations that would be combined include Osborne Street, Furby Street, Portage Avenue, Des Meurons Street, Marion Street, Sargent Avenue and Church Avenue.
More details of the suggested plans can be found on the city’s website.
The plan would cost about $150 million and take place over 15 years, but no consolidations would happen until 2023 at the earliest, said WFPS Chief John Lane.
The first station on the chopping block is Station 9 on Marion Street, which would pave the way for the equipment needed to build the new hall in Waverley West.
Waverley West Councillor Janice Lukes has been calling for a fire hall in the area of more about 60,000 people.
“This community is going to still keep growing and growing at a rapid pace,” she said.
“I think council realizes that the growth we’re experiencing in Waverley West is exponential and there is no fire protection.”
Chief John Lane says this would allow for quicker response times where most people would be getting service within four minutes.
“It’s not really a matter of doing more with less for the service but doing better with what we have,” he said.
Lane says the plan wouldn’t be suggesting layoffs, but would require more staffing.
“It’s been widely publicized in various media just how busy all aspects of our service are, but in particular our ambulance paramedics, and we are at capacity, in fact beyond capacity,” Lane said.
“This plan recognizes that and makes appropriate recommendations.”
United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg president Alex Forrest says the union has concerns about response times and leaving some communities vulnerable.
“They’re looking at consolidating some of the halls that are in the poorest areas in the city, which is unbelievable,” he said.
“We know we have to put money into the fire department, but don’t do it on the backs of the poorest of the poor in the City of Winnipeg.”
Chair of the city’s protection committee, Councillor Sherri Rollins says some of the stations are so old they can’t house modern equipment.
“It is important to point out that even if you have a station right beside you, that it may be insufficient to serve you,” she said.
“It may not have significant bays to get a ladder in it, it might have been aging infrastructure that is at risk itself due to its age, and it may not have the ladders that we need to respond to the emergencies we’re seeing in the city.”
The plan has to go before Winnipeg city council and needs council approval.