Fight over fire hall heats up in Rossdale

People who live in a river valley neighbourhood are worried about the expansion of a fire hall.
Edmonton fire chief Ken Block says the city needs a new fire hall to serve downtown. (CBC)

People who live in an Edmonton river valley neighbourhood are worried about the expansion of a fire hall.

The Rossdale fire hall, behind Telus Field, was mothballed in the 1990s and is now used only for river rescues.

Edmonton Fire Rescue is hoping to recommission it as a full service fire station to improve response times to downtown.

That has community residents worried about their quality of life.

The Rossdale fire hall was mothballed in the 1990s. (CBC)

"Obviously there is a noise factor - any time a siren goes off I'm going to be affected in my house," said community league president Lynn Parish.

"Anytime I drive around this corner I'm going to have to be concerned about fire trucks rushing out of this site.

"There are very few entrance and access points to Rossdale," she said. "It's sort of a small place if a fire truck is rushing down here you better get out the way pretty fast."

Twenty years ago the city promised to turn the site into a park, she said.

Fire Chief Ken Block said the fire station is needed as the population in the river valley and downtown grows.

'This is about public safety'

Last year there were 240 times when firefighters from the main downtown fire hall were tied up and crews from other areas were needed to respond.

"This is about public safety, nothing else," said fire chief Ken Block. "This is about managing the levels of risk not only for one particular community but for the city as a whole.

"That's my job as fire chief and that's what our intention is in bringing this to councils' attention."

Mayor Stephen Mandel said the fire department will have to prove its claims before the city spends the $5.5 million needed to upgrade the building.

"They're going to have to bring some arguments forward that's going to show there is a need for it," he said. "If they can't define the need... and making sure the area has proper coverage then it's a moot point."

The issue is expected to come before the city's community service committee in August.