New plan for old City Centre ParkNEWS/Entries/2019/6/20_New_plan_for_old_City_Centre_Park.html
Local Lions fill handivan boardNEWS/Entries/2019/6/20_Local_Lions_fill_handivan_board.html
Fort farmers market now openNEWS/Entries/2019/6/20_Fort_Farmers_Market_now_open.html
Pool gets universal change roomNEWS/Entries/2019/6/20_Pool_gets_universal_change_room.html

Volume 24, Number 24, Wednesday, June 19, 2019

UCP say bridge project will start

It is time Fort Saskatchewan had a full-time fire department.

Our on-call fire department served us well for more than a century, but rapid growth in the past decade brings us to a size where full-time firefighters ready to respond at all times have become a necessity.

Council was told we were just about ready for this change way back in 2008. We had 16,793 residents at that time, and studies done for the fire department that year found firefighters could just about make it to every fire call in 10 minutes.

Now we have 26,942 residents. Fire chief Shawn McKerry took another look at department records last year and found the average time to get a truck to a fire is now 17 minutes.

Moreover, he found that most of that time is taken just getting to the fire hall. On-call firefighters take a full 10 minutes to get to their trucks.

The obvious solution is to have a crew of firefighters at the fire hall at all times. That crew can be on the truck in seconds and at a fire anywhere in town in under 10 minutes.

It is an expensive solution — made more expensive by the fact we haven't been paying our firefighters all that we should.

The cost of a full time fire department is going to be about $3 million a year, or twice what it was with on-call firefighters alone.

Given this expense, it is reasonable of Fort officials to have hesitated in making the switch from on-call to full-time firefighters. But the time for hesitation is over. Fort Saskatchewan is now late to the party. Beaumont, Spruce Grove, Leduc, High River, Okotoks, Stony Plain, Cochrane, Canmore and Chestermere now have full-time fire departments and we do not.

Fort City Council already approved this switch last year, but it is taking some time to make changes to the department, and hire the new firefighters. Council is also set to discuss some of the details of the decision.

Discussion is fine, but it had best not delay the transition to a full-time department any further.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Interpretive platform at old fort siteNEWS/Entries/2019/6/20_Interpretive_platfort_at_old_fort_site.html

Don’t delay improved fire service

Work on Fort Saskatchewan's new bridge is set to begin in August, Alberta's new government said this week.

The new government will proceed with the plan made under the NDP, Transportation Minister Ric McIver announced Wednesday, June 12, during question period.

Responding to questions by Fort Saskatchewan - Vegreville MLA Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk, McIver said work has already begun on twinning Highway 15 through to Edmonton, and work on the bridge will begin in August.

Funding for both phases of the project was approved before the Alberta election.

Cancelling the projects would have meant breaking contracts and paying penalties, notes former MLA Jessica Littlewood. "I'm glad to see the UCP Conservatives aren't cancelling the contracts signed under our NDP government."

The highway work is scheduled to be completed by 2021, and the new bridge is scheduled to open by 2022. Total cost of the project is expected to be $211 million.

The new bridge will be built west of the existing bridge, which will be kept. Together they will be able to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction.

Extra lanes will also be built under 99 Avenue to provide a continuous four-lane connection from Fort Saskatchewan to Edmonton. The work will not impact any homes in the area, or traffic on 99 Avenue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019