• John Jantak

Province provides substantial financial subsidy for St. Lazare’s new fire station


JOHN JANTAK

Daniel Boyer, St. Lazare Director of Public Security and Fire Services, watches as Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois turn the sod at a groundbreaking ceremony to announce the start of construction of the town’s new fire station.

St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois scooped up a spade full of sod and playfully threw it close to reporters’ feet during a press conference to announce the start of construction of a new firestation for the town that will be partially financed through provincial subsidies, on Monday, October 20.

Of the $5 million pegged for the project, the province will fund 55 per cent of the cost through its five-year Quebec Municipalities Infrastructure Program (PIQM) said Charlebois, Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health who made the announcement on behalf of Pierre Moreau, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy.

“I am proud to announce our government’s financial support for a new fire hall for St. Lazare,” said Charlebois. “This will enable the town to ensure essential services continue to be provided to the public from a building that will meet today’s standards.” The news of the provincial subsidy was welcomed by Grimaudo who said it will help to keep municipal taxes low and enable the town to better prioritize other areas that will require infrastructure upgrades in the short and long-term.

“It’s huge,” said Grimaudo. “It’s great for our residents because we would have had to absorb the entire cost. Now we can budget just under $2.5 million instead of $5 million. It means less tax for citizens and we can use the money for other infrastructure projects.” The new state of-the-art fire station will cover a surface of about 1433 square meters and include administrative offices, locker rooms, dormitories, training room, kitchen and parking for emergency vehicles and fire trucks.

Daniel Boyer, Director of Public Security and Fire Services, was thrilled with the announcement saying the town’s emergency personnel are excited that they will finally have their own dedicated facility. The town’s emergency services are currently housed in the municipal garage. “It’s kind of an emotional moment for me because I’ve been working for the past seven years to realize this project,” said Boyer, a 22-year veteran with the town’s fire department.

“It’s a project that my staff heard me talk a lot about. They’ve worked together with the plans too and now it’s becoming a reality.” Boyer said the fire station is essential to provide the town’s growing population with adequate emergency services. He noted that when the St. Lazare began providing firefighting services 30 years ago, the department responded to 43 fire calls in 1984 for a population of 5,000 residents.

Since then, the role of firefighters has changed significantly and personnel now deal with a wide range of emergencies including vehicle accidents and medical requests. “Current figures show that the town’s emergency personnel which is comprised of 44 members, five of whom are full-time staff , respond annually to about 450 fire and emergency calls and 500 medical situations for a population of almost 20,000 residents,” said Boyer.

Grimaudo also noted the importance of the new fire hall which will be completed and operational by fall 2015. “We’ve been functioning with a fire station that was built 30 years ago to serve 5,000 people,” he said. “It’s not adequate. We have all the equipment, everything we need; now we just need the actual structure. We need to modernize so that we can serve the needs of our citizens properly.”

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