Merger on hold
Chances slim for combined station

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

Inuvik (May 05/00) - Despite the popularity of the idea in town council for one common building to house all of Inuvik's emergency services, the project may not be realized.

Inuvik fire Chief Al German said he first proposed the idea to council after hearing last summer that the RCMP was planning to replace its aging building with a new detachment.

"The new wave in emergency services across Canada is to amalgamate because it saves on overall maintenance costs, and things like heating," he said last week, "and makes it an overall professional building for the public to come and visit."

German said the proposal would include Inuvik's private Blue Ice ambulance service, because plans for a new regional hospital do not include accommodating it. He said the fire department is also looking at replacing its current station, beside town hall, because of structural ageing.

"One attraction in moving to a combined facility would be servicing needs but another would be because our building has already been condemned on the piling aspect of it," he said. "If you look at the maintenance we're spending and will spend on repairs it's almost the same cost as a new building."

German said he was pleasantly surprised that council supported his idea, but said despite proposals by the town to provide the RCMP with land in exchange for a share of the new detachment building, the project may not proceed.

"The RCMP is holding all the cards," he said.

RCMP Cpl. Brian Pinder recently told council that construction on the new detachment will likely start next year, but he said last week that plans for a combined emergency-services facility remain unsettled.

"We have no problems with the idea," he said. "We're just short on the time-frame and don't want to wait, and it gets complicated with the funding."

Pinder echoed German in saying it would be too expensive to simply modify the current detachment, and added they've had unused subdivision space for some time.

"They can design and build a new detachment specifically for the needs of this community," he said. "We're planning to break ground a year from now, and already have plans for a stand-along detachment; and at this point things are being done in Edmonton."

Deputy mayor Peter Clarkson said Tuesday that while German's idea is fine in principle, he does understand that it's realization is unlikely.

"It would be nice, but I know how restrictive the federal government is so the chances of it happening are slim," he said. "And there's the ambulance service, which is a private contract, so it would be unrealistic to think that the federal government might build a bigger building and spend taxpayers' dollars to accommodate a private business."

Clarkson said the fire hall has remained operational with piling repair, and German said that when the time comes a new hall might very well be built on the same site or in the vacant lot across the street.

For his part, Abadala Mohamed, owner-operator of Blue Ice, said a combined services building would be nice but that the ambulance service will have to find a new home in any case.

"If it doesn't happen, we might just do our own establishment but at the same time look at a building adjacent to the new detachment," he said.