YARMOUTH, N.S. – The days of putting the fire trucks outside, to hold a fundraiser inside, to raise money to keep the fire trucks indoors, will soon be a thing of the past for the Lakes and District Fire Department.
The Lake George, Yarmouth County, fire department is well into construction of a new fire hall bay to house their firetrucks. Last week the firefighters, auxiliary and community volunteers received a big boost from the federal and provincial levels of government, which each announced a contribution of $78,000 for the ‘new’ community centre aspect of the project.
This funding will help with renovations to turn what had been the storage area for the fire trucks into a community centre.
“My dream is finally coming true,” said Corrine Killam, president of the Lakes and District Fire Department Auxiliary.
Her dream includes offering more opportunities for seniors by holding activities to get them out of the house, and also having youth interact with seniors, perhaps through cooking classes and other activities.
The space will also serve as a comfort centre in times of drought, storms, power outages and other emergencies. Over the years the auxiliary has fundraised to purchase generators and a propane stove to benefit the community.
The community centre will also be a place where newcomers to the area can go to receive training and skills to help them enter the labour market.
This dream Killam speaks of has been nine years in the making since she became president of the auxiliary, but its history goes back further.
Since 1977 this fire department – like fire departments in communities throughout the region – has been a hub that hosts weddings, meetings, soup kitchens, bingos and other community activities, in addition to offering emergency and fire services.
“We know that this fire department is more than just a fire department, it truly is a community hub. It’s a place where people gather from all around, they come out and participate in social activities,” said West Nova MP Colin Fraser, who announced a $78,000 non-repayable contribution through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund, who also stressed the importance of a comfort centre.
“But we know, there’s not enough room here.”
Case in point, for this announcement the fire trucks had to be put outside to make room for the people inside. Lakes and District Chief Scott Killam says it will be good to put these days behind them.
“Anytime that we have to have a function such as bingo or a supper we have to take the trucks out, park them, clean up the hall, set up the tables, and then have our function and then take the tables down, bring the trucks back in,” he said, adding the new expansion will keep the trucks under cover while offering a place to fulfil many needs.
“It’s been a long time getting here,” he said.
Overall this is a $400,000 project. It involves converting the two existing truck bays into a 1,500-square-foot community centre that will be furnished with amenities to host computer training and exercise classes in addition to other social activities. There will be wheelchair accessible washrooms equipped with showers. And then there’s the new part of the hall being constructed to house the trucks. And going from 10-foot doors to 12-foot doors is a big deal, Chief Killam said.
The fire department has fundraised $50,000 towards the overall project and will have a mortgage on the improved fire hall/community centre that it will pay off with more fundraising. The Municipality of Yarmouth has contributed $10,000.
“This is such a wonderful community hall. It’s a wonderful gathering place,” Yarmouth MLA and the province’s education minister Zach Churchill said as he announced $78,000 in funding, saying the entire facility is not just critical to the community for firefighting, but also to give people a place to gather.
Added Yarmouth Municipal Warden Leland Anthony, in addressing the firefighters, auxiliary and other volunteers, “Thank you for your endeavours, for your drive and for your fortitude to move forward with this project.”
The mood was happy and jovial during the funding announcement event with smiles and laughter filling the room. When Churchill took the opportunity at the end to say thanks to MP Fraser for his work (Fraser is not reoffering in the next election), Chief Killam also wished Fraser well.
“Go forth and prosper,” he told Fraser, in a play on words from Star Trek, flashing Fraser Spock’s Vulcan hand sign.