The 2010 Fletcher Pettis revised cost estimate letter provides a Class “D” (feasibility) estimate only which is not based on an actual design. The current project estimates, which are the basis for the referendum, are based on an actual design which was developed by the architect’s team following input from the community and the Hornby Island Fire Rescue design committee. The Fire Hall Renewal Select committee has reviewed the various design concepts and recommended changes and reductions in scope to achieve a maximum project budget of $1.9 million.
The current interest rate for a loan from the Municipal Finance Authority is around 3%. If the referendum passes, the CVRD will borrow $1.6 million from MFA with an interest rate that will be fixed for a term of 10 years. After the 10 years, the loan will be renewed at a fixed interest rate for a second 10 year term.
SUA Architects and the consultant team have committed to work with the users to meet the fire hall construction budget of $1.9 million.
The 2015-2019 adopted financial plan for the Hornby Island Fire Service shows a tax requisition of $475,000 for all five years. This requisition covers the costs of providing the fire protection service as well as the debt servicing costs for the borrowing component of the fire hall project. The five year 2015-2019 financial plan does not indicate a requisition increase in 2016.
As far as limitations on borrowing as a percentage of revenue, this is a municipality requirement and is not a regional district limitation. Regional districts are not limited in the annual cost for servicing regional district liabilities.
The amount being funded from capital reserves for the fire hall construction was adjusted in the 2015-2019 financial plan to provide for other capital requirements in the 2015-2019 financial plan, specifically the decommissioning of the old fire hall planned in 2016 and the acquisition of a new rescue truck in 2018. Additionally, an adequate reserve balance is prudent in the event of an emergency repair or replacement of critical equipment as well as planning for asset management replacements in the five years beyond the 2015-2019 financial plan.
Here is a summary review of the financial implications of the fire hall project: The CVRD is facilitating the project with input from the Hornby Island community to develop and construct a fire hall design that accommodates the needs of the firefighters and is endorsed by community residents. The process has been ongoing for almost two years with several community meetings and several months of design with the firefighters design committee, with size and features being trimmed to accommodate the community's sensitivity to tax increases.
In 2014, the Fire Hall Renewal Select Committee (comprised mostly of members of the Hornby Island community) set a maximum budget of $1.9 million for the construction cost of the building including site conditions. SUA Architects will work with the Hornby Island Fire Rescue (HIFR) Design Committee and the CVRD to ensure that the project is delivered on budget.
The current estimated construction cost for the new fire hall is $1.9 million. A $200,000 grant will come from the Community Works Fund, $100,000 from reserves, which leaves $1.6 million. Pending electoral assent by referendum, the CVRD board has approval to borrow $1.6 million from Municipal Finance Authroity to assist with the construction of the new fire hall on Hornby Island.
Borrowed funds will be paid back through tax requisition. Based on the $1.6 million loan estimate, the net increase to the tax levy over 2014, for the average Hornby Island residential property would be approximately $24 per year. Note the estimated increase in the tax levy is over 2014 figures.
Since 2012, the tax levy for fire services has increased and is being held in capital reserves in order to pay for the current pre-construction costs (design fees, community meetings and advertising, engineering reports, preconstruction coordinator), a second tanker truck for Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation (budgeted among of $180,000), emergency reserves for operations, and a budgeted amount for the decommission of the current fire hall should the referendum pass.
According to 2015 CVRD financial budget reports, the estimated debt repayment costs (interest and principal) for the $1.6 million loan (4% rate over term of 20 years) is $122,000 per year. Further to these reports, the portion of the fire services tax levy for an average property assessed at $455,000 that will go towards paying back these debt repayment costs is estimated to be approximately $120 per year.
Due to the second tanker truck being included in the reserves, it is important to look at the financial benefits of this second tanker truck or what is known as Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation (STSA). The HIFR will look to achieve STSA and then most homeowners on Hornby Island will get what is known as "Hydrant Protected Status" which means direct savings in their fire insurance premiums. We have received written quotes from two reputable insurance companies with significant savings - $300-$500 in savings annually (See hifd.org for copies of these letters). Other communities such as Gabriola Island, Errington, Salt Spring Island, and Central Saanich have achieved STSA and are realizing these savings already. At these figures, the savings may offset the annual tax levy increase. With the added tanker truck, even residents or homeowners without house insurance will receive a better chance of saving their home and contents in the event of a fire.
The CVRD would finance the $1.6 million with the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia.
The CVRD is the approving body and the debt servicing costs (debt payments) are paid by the service that they pertain to which in this case is the Hornby Island Fire Protection Service.
Currently the rate on long term borrowing is 3.0%.
The CVRD will be "in charge of the project" through the architects engaged for this effort.
If the project estimates are over the allotted funds, the design committee and the architect will adjust the design to accommodate the funds available.
Yes, there would be a tax increase of approximately $24 for an average residence for the Hornby Island fire protection service.
If the Hornby Island fire hall project must proceed to referendum, the costs of the referendum will be funded by the Hornby Island fire protection service.
The civil engineering consultants for the project have indicated that the slopes are acceptable and will not impact the functionality of the fire hall. View the report received by the select committee on the proposed grades. With regards to the volunteer aspect of your question, the members of the fire department will continue to prepare for operations in inclement weather as they currently do.
With regard to the detail amount of seismic requirement, the new fire hall would be built in accordance with the BC Building Code which is based on the latest seismic research, including probabilities. These standards protect fire department members as well as the approximate $1,000,000 worth of equipment they use in providing their volunteer community services.
The approved 2012 through 2014 budgets for the fire protection service included increased contributions to the capital reserve to cover;
- The purchase of a second tanker truck required to achieve Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation (STSA) which may lower residential property insurance rates and,
- Fire hall pre-construction costs for such items as design, engineering, and public consultations
The estimated increase of $24 in 2015 is not specifically the debt servicing payment for fire hall construction, but rather, the net increase in the Hornby Island fire protection service over the 2014 taxation level.
No, the grant of land from the province is strictly for the purpose of a new fire hall only.
It is planned that the kitchen will be built as required to feed firefighters and evacuees in the event of a large scale disaster. A commercial kitchen is not planned.
The new fire hall would be designed to serve the community for 50 years or more.
The decision on whether or not to proceed with the project requires an informed and forthright discussion prior to electoral assent. The public consultation process is very important in ensuring the views of the public are represented.
The tax increase attributed to the construction of the fire hall would be in effect for 25 years, which is the duration of the long-term loan for the cost of construction. (Of note; since the time that this question was originally asked the estimated net increase between 2014 and 2015 is estimated at $24 and the term of 20 years is being considered)
Depending on the insurance broker and the coverage purchased, with superior tanker shuttle accreditation you can expect to save between $300 and $500 dollars per year.
The average residential property on Hornby Island, with an assessed value of $456,000, paid approximately $405 towards the Hornby Island fire department in 2012.
The cost of holding a referendum is estimated at $8000.
As the public consultation process unfolds and the input and comments from the public is received, the design of the fire hall will reflect the views of the residents and property owners of Hornby Island.
The cost of a new tanker truck is estimated at $170,000.
Yes. Recognizing that WorkSafe regulations present a challenge, volunteer donations of labour or “in kind” may form part of the overall project plan.
Yes. An offer of tenure has been accepted for a one hectare parcel of land across Central Rd from the current fire hall. View the map of the secured fire hall site.
The select committee and the CVRD will gather input and comments from the residents and property owners of Hornby Island to assist in the design of a fire hall. The design of the fire hall will meet the needs of the fire department while representing an acceptable cost level and views of Hornby Island.
The Hornby Island residents and ratepayers association (HIRRA) and the fire department had their first discussions regarding a possible new fire hall in 1997. Since that time, progressively more precise data have been gathered regarding the fire hall. For a brief background of the timeline to date, please see the July 26, 2012 View the presentation slides.
It is important that all aspects of the project be discussed and that all information is available to the residents and property owners that they may make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with the project.
The CVRD will facilitate the community discussion and design input. If the community wishes to proceed, the CVRD will contract and administer the construction of a new fire hall.
Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation
The fire department is undertaking the Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation as a separate, but parallel program to the CVRD's possible construction of a new fire hall. The two programs are planned to converge with the construction of a new fire hall which provides shelter for the second tanker truck required by the fire department for successfully challenging the accreditation test.
Storing a fire truck outdoors increases the probability of vandalism or mechanical problems possibly delaying response times. In order to more promptly serve the public, the best practice is to store the fire truck in a secure and heated fire hall.
The firefighters need to organize all equipment as quickly as possible. Housing equipment off-site may cause delays in response to an emergency.
The CVRD and the fire department can work with the residents of High Salal to develop a plan that may include them in the insurance premium reductions.
Fire Hall Questions
Yes. The firefighters will be involved with the designing of a new fire hall to ensure that it meets the space and operational requirements of the department.
The engineer's reports have indicated that rebuilding the old fire hall to meet post-disaster standards of the building code would not be economically practical.
As part of the land grant application, the CVRD and the province have received a letter from the K'omoks First Nation stating that it has no concerns with the proposed new fire hall site.
Yes. To ensure that the project meets all aspects of the building code, normal engineering services will be engaged.
A new fire hall would be designed to serve the community for 50 years or more. “Cheaper” alternatives, such as the ambulance station on Denman, have a manufacturer-claimed lifespan of 20 years. Of note, the cost per square foot of erecting a structure such as the Denman Island ambulance station, including concrete, mechanical and electrical systems is slightly less than that of a purpose-built structure. Operating costs, such as energy used to heat, are higher.
“Post-disaster” buildings are defined in the National Building Code as those buildings essential to the provision of services in the event of a disaster. The benefit of a “post-disaster” fire hall is that the emergency equipment, including fire trucks, ambulance, water supply trucks, and communication equipment will likely survive a disaster and be available to serve the community in a time of great need.
Public meeting facilities may be incorporated into the design of a new fire hall if the community indicates this as a priority.
General Questions and Comments
The development plan submitted to the province as part of the Crown land grant application includes the demolition of the old fire hall. The Hornby Island Residents and Ratepayers Association ( HIRRA) has asked that the CVRD consider support of its possible application to the province to maintain the old fire hall building for community purposes.
HIRRA wishes to examine this option and has requested that the CVRD support its exploration.
With the need for a new fire hall identified, the select committee and the CVRD are working towards providing a safe workplace for the firefighters.
Yes. The fire fighters have installed short-term measures to lessen the risk of seismic damage to portions of the fire hall, but those measures are recognized as not meeting building code requirements.
I had a chance to walk the new site and was surprised at the grade change from the road. I think at the meetings this site was being promoted as being level and was superior to the current site which has grade issues. From what I could see and feel the proposed site is no better than the current one unless a significant sum is spent on leveling.
Response: Early in 2009 the select committee had raised this same concern as you have. Accordingly, they requested that the slope of the new site be confirmed by way of British Columbia Land Surveyor. The completed survey indicates that the property has a 5% slope which is an acceptable gradient for safe fire truck access and egress.
The 2 storey design as proposed would be expensive to build taking into account new earthquake standards. I believe a one storey solution is more cost effective. Also we need to look at prefab alternates for some the spatial needs since traditional stick building on Hornby is very expensive.
Response: These are very important aspects of the design of a new fire hall. As the design of the fire hall is developed, your comments, and those of other Hornby Island residents and property owners will guide the design team to a fire hall that provides the best value for Hornby Island.
I am writing in support of the proposal to build a new fire hall on Hornby. I understand the need to construct a new hall, and wish that it could proceed as fast as possible. I do not think that a referendum on such a decision is in the public interest. The estimated cost seems quite reasonable. I am not a firefighter, just a concerned visitor and taxpayer. Please initiate this project ASAP.
Given the safety issue for the firefighters and the improvement in service, I would support the project. The increase taxes are minimal, and I do not believe the cost of a referendum warrants holding one. I am on Hornby in the summer, and it would be appreciated if a meeting could be held in August. Perhaps Tony could arrange one if it is not feasible or cost effective to have a larger session. Family has owned, summered and lived on Hornby for 40 years.