City engineer Mario Sonego says “there’s not a chance” that Fire Hall No. 5 will be complete by the end of the year.

The station is proposed for the northeast corner of Daytona Avenue and Northwood Street, one block east of Huron Church Road.

As CBC News first reported in April, the city cancelled a tender to build the hall after Butler’s Gartersnakes were found on the site. The snakes are a species at risk.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the city could apply for an “overall benefit permit” under the Endangered Species Act.

That hasn’t happened, yet.

The permit could allow construction to go forward with some conditions. 

Sonego said the city has hired a consultant but has not applied for the permit.

Sonego said depending on the terms of the permit and possible relocation of the snakes, “it’s going to be a little bit of time still” before the project gets underway.

“It’ll cost a little bit more, absolutely,” Sonego said. “But we don’t have an estimate at this time.

'It'll cost a little bit more, absolutely.'- City engineer Mario Sonego

“I don’t think the cost is going to be that great. It won’t put the fire station costs at a point where you can’t do it.”

Sonego said even an agreement with the MNR is reached, ongoing training and monitoring will be needed at the site.

Sonego said even if the city moves the snakes, those who will build and work at the station will have to receive special training on what to do should they come across any more snakes.

According to the MNR, the Endangered Species Act of 2007 is flexible enough to protect species and their habitat while allowing human activity that might otherwise be prohibited.

“MNR continues to work with the City and their consultants on how to address species at risk concerns,” the MNR’s senior media relations officer Jolanta Kowalski wrote in an email.

The City of Windsor had planned to decommission three fire stations and build two new ones by Dec. 31 for $9 million.

A new Station No. 5 is planned at Northwood Street and Daytona Avenue and a new Station No. 2 is to be built at Milloy Street and Chandler Road. They are part of a restructuring plan designed to offset the cost of an arbitrator’s ruling that awarded Windsor firefighters a 15-per-cent wage increase and reduced their weekly hours of work from 48 to 42.

Sonego said the city is not considering a different location for the new No. 5 station.

“The fire department picked that location because of response time,” he said. “We’ve already bought the land and already invested in it. This is just something we have to deal with.”

According to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, the only place in the world where Butler’s garter snake is found is in the lower Great Lakes region.

The snake is concentrated in two areas:

  • within 10 kilometres of the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River, and Lake Huron from Amherst Point to Errol, in Essex and Lambton counties
  • Luther Marsh, Dufferin and Wellington counties.