Ambulance services will be staying in Sidney, thanks to a new lease agreement for space in the town’s new community safety building.
The Town of Sidney and BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) formalized a lease at the end of February, confirming that the local ambulance service will move in from its current Third Street location, once the community safety building (CSB) is complete — and that’s expected in early 2019.
“Keeping the ambulance station in town to serve our residents has been one of the motivating factors in pursuing a new Community Safety Building,” stated Mayor Steve Price in a media release. “The Town is happy to provide a new, custom-built, post-disaster building for use by BC Emergency Health Services, knowing that they will be here for the long-term.”
Including the ambulance service in the new, $14.5 million fire hall building has always been in the Town’s plans. A final lease agreement could not be reached, however, until a better picture of the overall costs of the facility came into focus.
“Now that the total project costs are closer to being finalized, a formal lease agreement … is ready for council approval,” wrote Sidney’s Director of Corporate Services Andrew Hicik in a report.
The lease is for a 20-year term, with options for renewals to extend it to 40 years. The BCEHS will pay an annual base rent of $172,648 for each of the first 20 years of the lease, up to a maximum of $2.5 million for the ambulance portion of the building. This represents 15.5 per cent of the total cost of the building.
The lease also states that the BCEHS will cover its own costs for fitting out its space with equipment and it will pay a share of common operating costs, like cleaning services and electricity.
“We’re extremely excited to be moving into a facility that’s built to our needs,” said BCEHS Area Director for patient care delivery Lance Stephenson.
Stephenson added this is Vancouver Island’s first purposely built joint facility for fire and emergency health services use.
“It’s great to see a building with the future in mind,” said Stephenson. “It really is ideal.”
Hicik noted the Town, under these lease terms, should be able to recover the cost of the ambulance portion of the CSB in the first 20 years. He estimated Sidney’s total loan payments for the ambulance portion of the building to be around $130,000 a year, over 30 years at current rates. Hicik added the Town could consider borrowing the ambulance portion of the loan over a 20-year-term, to manage cash flow.
The Town of Sidney is using a combination of borrowed money, gas tax dollars, lease payments and the sale of its current fire hall building and adjacent property, to pay for the new CSB.
The current ambulance station on Third Street, across from the fire hall, is expected to be demolished should a proposed redevelopment of the Star Cinema building be approved.