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Possible new fire hall location met with school board opposition

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times

One of the suggested locations for the possible new fire hall in Taber has a local school board fired up.

Horizon School Division discussed the issue at their most recent meeting in August and the trustees were disappointed with discussions of potentially using a town-owned field directly east of St. Patrick’s Elementary School and directly south of Dr. Hamman School.

“There’s no way they should be putting a fire station in school zone areas, both blocks that it would be on would be school zone areas,” said Bruce Francis, Horizon board member. “We have so many students that walk that area.”

The board had gotten word the town was looking at the plot and many of the board members voiced their frustrations with the town, especially since the location is right in the vicinity of multiple schools.

“If you put a fire department there and they’re racing out, you’re sandwiched between two schools,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent at Horizon School Division.

Some were even more vocally against the idea, calling it more than a terrible idea.

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Rick Anderson, Horizon board trustee.

With the town looking to centralize the new fire hall, they are exploring multiple options but with one of those being right near multiple schools, the board hopes they can sway town council to stay away from that area.

“It was suggested and we agreed as a facilities committee that we as a board should be writing a letter to the town making sure that we are opposed,” said Francis.

“We know having it around playgrounds, school zones and sports fields… that’s not a good.”

The board went on to pass a motion that they would send a letter to the Town of Taber with Francis saying that it was their duty as a board to do so.

They also decided to contact Holy Spirit Catholic School Division with the intent that they might get in contact with town council to voice the same objections. The current status of the proposed land is being used as a sports field with multiple soccer nets but due to its central location it would seem to be an area that would be ideal for what the town is looking for as the board says they want the building to be within 500 metres of the intersection of 50th Street and 50th Avenue. Other alternative locations are being discussed but so far nothing has been officially released by the town.

After former Municipal District of Taber resident William Ferguson left the town approximately $2.4 million, town council voted unanimously to set $1.5 million of the money aside for a new fire hall at their July 17 meeting.

While the public has been skeptical about the new building and the lack of transparency, the board felt once people living in Taber found out about the proposed property near the schools, they too would feel strongly about keeping the hall from the location.

“I can’t but help think that if town residents knew that was one of the proposals, they would jump up and down and say absolutely no way,” said Francis.

The board expects that many parents within Horizon School Division and Holy Spirit Catholic School Division to be the most vocal, especially those with kids in Dr. Hamman School and St. Patrick’s Elementary, hence why the board sees it fit to get Holy Spirit involved.

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