Location, location, location.
It’s the mantra of real estate agents and housing developers. It could also be the rallying cry of both sides in a growing debate over where a proposed community safety building will go within the Town of Sidney.
On Monday, Feb. 2, the municipality presented a feasibility study and outlined the case for property next to Sidney Elementary School. It’s the number one choice in the study — which appears to compile a review of potential fire hall relocation sites from 2010 and other information from years earlier.
Will the dated information matter much in this debate? Unlikely, as Sidney’s footprint hasn’t changed over that time and much of the town still lies beneath the flight path of the airport’s main runway.
That fact has, according to Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen, eliminated some of the sites that are already being favoured by some residents. Do we want a fire hall, ambulance station and other first responders under a flight path? Probably not, just to be on the safe side.
Other areas under consideration were eliminated as top picks for their distance from the majority of fire department emergency calls — and their volunteers.
That’s left the large green space next to the school as the top pick. Yet it’s because the land is an urban green space that it will have plenty of people stacked against it.
Residents should heed the words of Sidney Councillor Barbara Fallott and ensure they get all the information during the public debate. Simply not liking the fact that your street could change isn’t going to fly.
Where the argument against locating the fire hall next to the school could go, is in its ultimate cost. No one is saying they have an estimate yet, but taking into account land prices and the cost of building a solid emergency services facility, it could very well be into the double digits in millions of dollars.
Offsets or not, coming up with the cash for this project will be as big a battle as finding the best location.