The City of Fort St. John’s plans for a new firehall were the object of much debate at last night’s All Candidates forum, which saw new and incumbent candidates butt heads over which of the city’s options best served its residents.
Citing a fire underwriter’s study that called for the current firehall to be replaced, incumbent councilor and former fire chief Larry Evans stressed the importance of the new firehall—not just for citizens’ safety, but for their wallets as well. He says the city risks losing its fire rating if it doesn’t comply with the recommendations, resulting in increased insurance costs for residents of the city.
Longtime councilor Karen Simpson stood by the recent decision by mayor and council to purchase land for the new firehall rather than build on a nearby city-owned greenspace, saying the general public had expressed a desire to preserve the area as a public park.
Political newcomer Theresa Mucci-Rodgers, who has publicly spoken against the city’s acquisition of land for the new fire hall, insisted that the city’s best choice was to put the firehall on the current greenspace and make up for the lost parkland with another park elsewhere in the city.
Mayoral candidates Bruce Lantz and Jim Eglinski also spoke on the topic of the new firehall, with incumbent Eglinski saying residents would make the final decision on whether or not to construct the firehall through referendum. Lantz said that if elected, he would freeze all capital spending for 6 months to review and prioritze.