The province recently announced a growing communities grant and that Princeton, B.C., will receive over $1.9 million in funding.
On Wednesday, local officials announced that the funding will be going towards a second fire hall, training centre and emergency operations centre just outside of town.
“It was a grant that came out for capital expenditures. This is something that has been on our plan. We have been talking about it for four years trying to figure out how we are going to come up with funding. This isn’t the full amount of money, we still have to come up with some more, but it is a good start to build a building,” said Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne.
“We can go into the planning stage and get some architectural designs done and move from there. Then we can start talking to other partners. There is another emergency service that I would like up here, and if we can make an agreement, then we would have everybody in the same location.”
Coyne went on to say that it is important for the town to have all emergency services on higher ground, as the town’s key emergency infrastructure is currently located in the downtown core.
The new site is located near David Browne Way, just outside of the town centre.
“Building a facility up here, it gives us continuity during major events. It gets us out of the floodplain — it’s a position that is going to be pretty resilient to wildfires. It’ll give us a really good operational control area that we can work out of,” said Coyne.
“Our public works is just next door, ground search and rescue is going to be up here, the highway contractor is up here as well and the RCMP have also purchased property to build nearby. It will give us an area to work collaboratively as well which is key when we are talking about emergency services.”
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell echoed that centres like this reflect the necessary changes that communities are making due to climate change and the increase of natural disasters.
“Absolutely, there is no doubt. We look at the increased frequency and the intensity of these emergency disaster events around the province and I don’t think anybody wouldn’t have noticed how dramatic they’ve been as of late,” said Russell.
“There’s a whole lot behind that on how we navigate that as a province. Whether that’s on the emergency management side of things and the work that is happening right now to really rewrite all of our legislation on how we navigate disasters to move beyond just response.”
B.C. Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma attended Wednesday’s announcement alongside local officials.
“It is incredibly heartwarming to be able to celebrate something as forward-looking, as in a new emergency operations centre, a new fire hall. These are moments that I think the town really cherishes.”
Meanwhile, the new site is expected to also include a fire training centre.
“It’s going to be quite the impressive site when it’s all said and done. That will give us the ability to train our firefighters locally instead of having to ship them to some other community which costs the community a lot of money,” said Coyne.
“Short term, we will put up a bunch of money but long term, we will get that back and have a better-trained fire department as a part of it.”