OUR VIEW: The hall mark of public input

Sidney is trying to ensure there will be buy-in when a final decision is made on a replacement fire hall.

Sidney is starting its self-described robust public participation process into the replacement plans for its fire hall.

On Monday, Feb. 2, council hears from the firm who conducted a feasibility study, looking at the potential sites, partners and makeup of a community safety building — one that will be built to a higher safety standard than its current fire hall on Third Street.

Already, it has been stated that land next to Sidney Elementary School on Seventh Street is the favoured location. Of course, that still requires negotiation between the Town and School District 63 (Saanich) on a purchase price.

Needless to say, those negotiations (as well as other discussions of price and service relocation by agencies like the RCMP, B.C. Ambulance Service and others) could very well remain out of the public eye. But that doesn’t mean there will an eroding of public process.

It’s not common for a municipality to issue a media release in advance of a regular committee meeting. Doing so in this case shows the Town realizes the issue will be an important one for many citizens and is making sure people have every opportunity to scrutinize the plans and the process.

Already, concerns are being raised by some residents over the potential impacts of relocating the fire hall — traffic, cost and need are already topics of discussion among News Review letter-writers.

Make no mistake, a replacement fire hall will cost millions of dollars and have the potential to radically change a portion of downtown Sidney.

By making sure residents have every chance to have a say early in the process, Sidney is trying to ensure there will be buy-in when a final decision is made.