A report from Peterborough’s fire chief recommends the Northcrest Arena site be the new location of fire station 2 in the city’s north end.
On Monday city council will review the report from Peterborough Fire Services chief Chris Snetsinger who recommends the new $11-million station be built on Marina Boulevard land where the aging Northcrest Arena stands.
The facility would replace the current, smaller station on nearby Carnegie Avenue, which was built in 1967. City officials say that station sits on a flood plain and firefighters are currently unable to meet provincial requirements for emergency response times and that there isn’t enough land to provide a building size and design to meet current standards for operations.
The more than50-year-old Northcrest Arena was decommissioned and closed in April 2020, however, it has been used by Peterborough Public Health since October as a site to conduct COVID-19 tests.
In his report, Snetsinger notes the Marina Boulevard location would provide “quick and easy” access to Water Street and that there are no residential properties directly across from the access to the proposed fire station.
“The site is positioned on the outside of a curve in the road, which provides good visibility to the intersection with Water Street as well as travelling west on Marina,” he said.
“Building on the Northcrest site reuses an existing building site. The site is already cleared so there are no trees impacted by the development and the grading that was done to make the site flat for the arena and its parking lot will be useful for the fire station.
“In addition, the likelihood of archaeological factors on a previously disturbed site is far less. Satellite fire stations like fire station 2 are part of residential communities — they have a history of becoming an important part of the fabric of the residential neighbourhoods in which they are located.”
He also highlighted a public survey the city conducted in February 2021 that showed 87 per cent of the 210 respondents were in favour of the Northcrest site. Another 13 per cent favoured a site on Sunset Boulevard.
In February, city council voted to remove Inverlea Park as a potential location following concerns from residents.
Residents along Sunset Boulevard have also voiced opposition to a fire station, forming the “Friends of Sunset Park” while garnering 200 signatures opposing the proposed station in their neighbourhood.
“This park is not simply vacant land for infrastructure development. It is a natural environment public park which provides endless opportunities for outdoor learning, exercising, and recreation,” said member Franco Mattiucci. “And if there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that people in Peterborough value and use green space.”
Member Monica Moran claims the city failed to consult with residents before considering Sunset Park as a potential location for the fire station, prompting them to form the group and garner input.
“We believed that, given the lack of meaningful consultation, this was our best option to hear from neighbours,” Moran said. “And 100 of those surveyed said that they had no idea that a fire hall in their park was being considered by the city. Once we explained the situation to them, 98 per cent signed the flyer to indicate that they were opposed to the destruction of their park for the purpose of building the new fire hall.”
Snetsinger in his report said, “respondents indicated that support of green spaces and parks ranked as the most important consideration with fire response times being the second consideration.”
If the fire chief’s report is approved by council, demolition of the Northcrest Arena could begin in early fall. However, a review of the current use status for COVID-19 test centre operations must occur first, he said.
Construction on the new fire station could begin in 2022. Currently, $3.7 million has been approved for the project with a recommendation that $7.3 million be pre-committed in the city’s 2022 capital budget while efforts are made to also apply for government funding such as the Green Municipal Fund, Snetsinger’s report notes.