Fire hall’s future still up for grabs

Arts council, Search and Rescue both have sights on Cranbrook’s decommissioned fire hall downtown

Cranbrook and District Search and Rescue is worried that it will soon be out of a home.

The organization moved into the decommissioned fire hall in downtown Cranbrook in 2010, after 36 years operating out of a one-bay garage with one truck staying outside and no washroom facilities.

Now they are happily ensconced in the old fire hall, where they can conduct training, store vehicles and gear, and run search operations.

But the lease from the City of Cranbrook is for four years only, expiring in 2014, because council hasn’t yet decided about the best use for the fire hall in the long term.

Search and Rescue president Greg Bedwell wrote to city council last month, asking for certainty about a new lease, while the organization sets up its five-year operating plan.

Cranbrook and District Arts Council has pitched the facility to city council as a new home for the arts, with a gallery, office and studio space.

But Mayor Wayne Stetski said at council’s Monday, November 5 meeting, the future of the fire hall has not yet been determined.

“The question that is before city council is: what is the best use for that important piece of real estate right here in downtown Cranbrook?” he said.

“We have put money into the 2014 budget potentially for converting the fire hall to an arts facility as a home for the arts. But there is a lot of discussion that needs to happen between now and then.”

Councillor Denise Pallesen stressed the importance of Search and Rescue for the community.

“I’d like to see a situation where we have them in a building of their own. Maybe they can stay in the fire hall on the main floor, the arts council could take the second floor. I think we really need to help this organization out wherever we can,” she said.

Mayor Stetski gave the assurance that whatever the future of the decommissioned fire hall, Search and Rescue will not be neglected.

“We will be working with Search and Rescue to make sure there is a suitable home if they don’t continue to be there in the fire hall,” said Stetski.

“Our responsibility as a council is to make sure the old fire hall located right here downtown finds its best use for moving into the future. But we certainly won’t abandon Search and Rescue as part of the process.”