By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 12, 2012
When the Big One hits B.C., as it will, there are some buildings that must remain standing in Squamish.
One of them is Alex Munro Fire Hall, a building whose stability is paramount for it’s a post-disaster building that also towers above the flood plain.
But when an earthquake slightly bigger than the one we experienced few weeks ago gives the building a shakedown, the building might not stand out as boldly as it’s supposed to do.
A consultant report prepared last year raised concerns about the 12-year-old building’s structural integrity, particularly the hose tower that stands adjacent to the building.
Its foundation is questionable, and the tower isn’t braced. In an earthquake, the tower could simply topple over the building, a consultant had warned last year.
He suggested the district bring the building up to current BC Code with a one-time expenditure of $50,000.
Council of the time balked at the expenditure, even as the then GM of engineering Brian Barnett warned ‘there is a series of bad news with the tower.’
The mayor at the time, Greg Gardner, noted the building is only 12 years old, and doesn’t need the upgrades.
“Chasing buildings to bring them up to standards is very expensive,” he said.
Councillor Corrine Lonsdale noted other municipal buildings like the library and the main firehall were built to an even lower standard.
Now, perhaps chastened by recent rumbling of the earth, the district is addressing the shortcomings.
District spokesperson Christina Moore said the walls of the fire hall are currently being upgraded to address potential seismic deficiencies.
The work will be completed in the next few weeks, and will bring the fire hall up to current BC Building Code.
Next year, the council is being asked to pay for the final upgrades to the hose tower.
“Staff has been working with consulting engineers to explore all possible options,” Moore said.
District also replaced the Alex Munro Hall roof because of leaking, while a new flexible roof diaphragm was designed and installed to rectify potential seismic deficiencies.
A variety of buildings – schools, university buildings, Brennan Park – are identified as emergency shelters options.
The ‘bricks and mortar’ Emergency Operations Centre is located at the RCMP Detachment on Finch Road.
Squamish also owns a mobile Incident Command Centre that allows the district to set up an Emergency Operations Centre at any location.