The CVRD provides the Greater Merville Fire Protection Service and contracts with the City of Courtenay for fire suppression services. The CVRD has committed to construct, equip and operate a new auxiliary fire hall to be located at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society property at Williams Beach Road and the Island Highway.  This new fire hall is to be managed in collaboration with Oyster River Fire Rescue.

The consultant’s report recommended the development of an auxiliary fire hall, centrally located within the Greater Merville area may provide the following benefits:

  • Improved life-safety of the residents within the service area
  • A responding fire hall within eight kilometers of the residents which may lead to reduced fire insurance premiums
  • Delivery of medical first responder program within the service area

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented some challenges, the CVRD continues to move this project forward.

Project Update as of October 26, 2020

This project includes Fire Hall design and construction as well as the purchase of Fire Service vehicles and equipment.

Fire Hall Design and Construction

The architect and engineering team has completed the preliminary fire hall design which includes:

  • Single storey wood framed building that meets post disaster construction requirements
  • Two truck bays (fire engine and tanker truck)
  • Radio room space
  • Training room space

The estimated cost for construction is approximately 1.3 million dollars. This estimate may differ from construction bids when they are received.

Fire Service Vehicles and Equipment

Staff has developed a preliminary fire service equipment list which includes:

  • Fire Engine
  • Tanker truck
  • Duty response truck
  • Tools, operational equipment and safety gear required to provide the service.

The estimated cost for the fire service vehicles and equipment for this project is approximately $810,000. This estimate may differ from equipment supply bids when they are received.

Elector Assent

The borrowing of funds to complete the project requires elector assent. That is; the residents and property owners of the service area must approve the borrowing of the funds for construction and equipment purchase for the new Merville Fire Hall. Please visit the webpage below for detailed information on the Alternative Approval Process, including elector response forms, eligibility requirements and important dates.  

Alternative Approval Process - Merville Fire Hall Loan Authorization Bylaw

Next Steps

Alternative Approval Process (AAP) planned for the fall of 2020.

  • A letter has been mailed directly to each resident and property owner to:
    • Provide project background
    • Introduce the website as the primary source of information for the project
    • Provide contact information for comments and questions about the project
  • A second letter has been mailed directly to each resident and property owner which outlines the full details of the elector assent process

Volunteer Recruitment

The Merville Fire Protection service currently has 14 dedicated volunteers that are trained and ready to serve their community but more volunteers are needed. Volunteer recruitment is ongoing and having a full complement of volunteer fire fighters is essential for the hall to operate. Please consider becoming a volunteer firefighter.

For more information on becoming a volunteer firefighter please contact https://www.oysterriverfire.ca/

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Project Notifications

For More Information

James Bast, Manager of fire services
Email | Tel: 250-334-6044

Background

The need to establish a fire hall in the Merville region was identified in a study conducted for the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) in 2016.

As a new fire hall would benefit both the Merville Fire Protection Service and the Tsolum-Farnham Fire Protection Service, the CVRD has committed to merging these two services. This will make the project more cost efficient and will ensure that property owners pay an equitable amount toward the auxiliary hall project. 

At community meetings and Director’s events, attending residents and property owners expressed support for the construction of a Greater Merville auxiliary fire hall.

2018 Public Information Session

Thank you to all who attended the public information session in August 2018 to hear about the status of the auxiliary fire hall project.  We appreciate all of the interest. View the presentation panels

Q & A's

As questions are received by the CVRD, the question and the reply will be posted here to help provide the residents and property owners of the service area with all the information they require to make an informed decision regarding the AAP question.

What are the benefits of having a Merville Fire Hall?

The 2016 consultant’s report recommended the development of an auxiliary fire hall, centrally located within the greater Merville area could provide the following benefits to the community:

  • Improved life-safety for residents within the service area
  • Possibly reduced insurance premiums for insured residential properties
  • Delivery of medical first responder service
How much will the new fire hall and equipment cost?

The total estimated cost for the project is $2,129,430.

How will the project be funded?

The project would be funded by the taxpayers of the service area with the funding strategy including a combination of capital reserves and a maximum of two million dollars of borrowing.

What are the tax implications of the new fire hall project?

The funding strategy for the project is achievable within the current taxation level the service. That is; the project is not anticipated to increase the current taxation level for the service. The service had increased its capital reserve contributions in recent years in anticipation of this project. The current tax rate for the service is approximately $0.61 per $1,000 of assessed value, or a tax impact for a home assessed at $500,000 in 2020 of approximately $303.

Where is the new fire hall planned to be built?

The CVRD has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society towards leasing a portion of their property near Williams Beach Road. The fire hall will be located with direct access to Highway 19A.

Will the residents and property owners be able to vote on whether to proceed with the fire hall project?

Yes. The borrowing of funds to complete the project will require elector assent. That is; the residents and property owners of the service area will have to give their permission for the CVRD to borrow the funds for construction and equipment purchase. 

At its August 25, 2020 meeting the Board endorsed an Alternate Approval Process (AAP) as the mechanism to seek elector assent. 

Prior to the AAP later this year, residents and property owners will receive a letter outlining the full details of the process.

How will the service be delivered?

Fire protection and medical first responder service will be delivered by the dedicated Merville volunteers that are already trained and ready to serve their community. The service will be delivered in collaboration with the Oyster River Fire Rescue department

Will the project include a water tanker truck?

Yes. A water tanker truck is a very important to fire suppression in the rural setting with no fire hydrants. 

Will the new fire hall help reduce my fire insurance premium costs?

Possibly. The cost for fire insurance is determined in part by the marketplace and in part by the Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS) whose position is that a single family residence should be no more than eight road kilometers from a responding fire hall to be considered protected. Beyond that distance the residence may be determined to be unprotected and attract higher premiums for fire insurance. The location of the fire hall captures the greatest number of properties in the service area to be within eight road kilometers, and so lower fire insurance premiums may be available. Residents within the service area should contact their insurance provider to determine if premium reductions are available for their property.

A detailed analysis of fire insurance premium calculations is available within the October 2016 consultant’s final report Merville Fire Protection District fire services review.

Will the new fire hall service the entire Merville area?

The volunteers of the new fire hall will respond to properties within the Greater Merville fire protection service area.

What is the zoning required for the Merville Fire Hall?

A fire hall is defined as a “Utility use” within the Rural Comox Valley Zoning Bylaw, No. 520, 2019. Further, Part 300 of bylaw 520 confirms that “Utility use” is permitted in all zones. 

Will the CVRD subdivide the MARS property or lease a portion of it for the fire hall?

The CVRD will enter into a lease agreement with MARS for a portion of the property for the fire hall.