Proposed Emergency Services Building

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Open House Presentation

Public Open House and Feedback Report

Thank you for providing your feedback on the proposed Emergency Services Building.

Background Reports


 November 23, 2015 - Council wants a 10 minute response time study

RES. 530/2015    MOVED BY Councillor Strojwas that Council directs Administration to hire a company to conduct a study of the Fire Department response times within the Town of Taber limits.

February 22, 2016 - HIRF response time report to Council

RES. 87/2016    MOVED BY Councillor Sparks that the High-Intensity Residential Fires Response (HIRF) Time Report be accepted as information.

November 28, 2016 - Council chose the members of the HIRF Committee

RES. 630/2016   MOVED BY Councillor Strojwas that Council appoints Councillor Popadynetz, Councillor Prokop and Councillor Ross-Giroux, along with the tree contractors, Edwin Ellingson of Willowcrest Construction, Travis Bareman of Bareman Construction, and Willi Thiessen of Terramessa Inc., to an ad hoc committee to investigate High Intensity Residential Fire (HIRF) Options.

January 26, 2017 - First HIRF Committee Meeting

February 15, 2017 - Second HIRF Committee Meeting

March 29, 2017 - Third (Last) HIRF Committee Meeting

April 24, 2017 - HIRF Report to Council

RES. 168/2017    MOVED BY Councillor Sparks that Council accepts the report from the HIRF Committee and directs administration to examine the benefit of locating the Parks Department within the current Fire Hall and evaluate the asset management and efficient Land Use/ Growth perspectives related to a possible fire hall relocation.

June 26, 2017 - Fire Hall Relocation - Benefits to Administration Report to Council

RES. 280/2017    MOVED BY Councillor Ross-Giroux that Council accepts the Fire Hall Relocation - Administration Consideration Report, as information.

July 17, 2017 - Allocated money from Donation at Council Meeting

RES. 311/2017   MOVED BY Councillor Strojwas that Council sets aside $1.5 million for a new Fire Hall Building, and $900,000.00 to the Trail/Trout Pond Projects from the William Ferguson Estate, with the Fire Hall to be dedicated and named after William Ferguson.

August 2, 2017- Design, timing and cost options at Council Meeting

RES. 317/2017   MOVED BY Councillor Brewin that Council directs Administration to look at design, timing, and cost options for the proposed new Fire Hall and to bring results of that work back at a future meeting as soon as the information becomes available for Council's consideration.

August 21, 2017- Feasibility at Council Meeting

RES. 345/2017   MOVED BY Councillor Brewin that Council authorizes Administration to examine the feasibility of locating the Fire Hall either on the southeast corner of Plan 6403JK, Block P1, or Plan 7282JK, Block C, northwest of the curling rink, as these sites are the top two highest ranked sites evaluated; and,

Directs Administration to undertake a public engagement process to present the advantages and disadvantages of both of these sites to the public for their input.

November 14, 2017 - Delegation concerned about Fire Hall Relocation to Council

RES. 464/2017     MOVED BY Councillor Strojwas that Council receives the delegation of concerned citizens regarding the potential Fire Hall location, for information purposes.

January 22, 2018 - Open House Scheduled by Council

RES. 57/2018      MOVED BY Councillor Firth that Council directs Administration to make arrangements for an Emergency Services Building Open House at 7:00pm on February 13th, 2018, at the Civic Centre.

February 9, 2018 - Administration had a HIRF and Spatial Separation Workshop for local builders.

February 12, 2018 - Removal of three location options from list at Special Council Meeting

RES. 86/2018   MOVED BY Councillor Brewin that Council directs Administration to remove from consideration for the construction of the Emergency Services Building locations described as southeast corner of Plan 6403JK, Block P1 (soccer fields adjacent to Dr. Hammond School), and Plan 7282JK, Block C (northwest of the curling rink), and any location in the Confederation Park; and,

Directs Administration to Place this motion in the presentation of the open house scheduled for February 13, 2018.

February 13, 2018 - Administration held an open house

March 12, 2018 - Open House Feedback Report to Council

RES. 116/2018    MOVED BY Councillor Firth that Council accepts the report as information.

 April 9, 2018 - Delegation petitioning the Fire Hall Relocation at Council

RES. 193/2018     MOVED BY Councillor Tams that the Council accepts the information provided by the Fire Hall Petition Delegation for information purposes; and,

Council requests Administration to bring back information on the sufficiency of the petition, along with steps forward in this process, to a future meeting.

August 20, 2018 - Purchase lands for proposed placement of Fire Hall

RES. 325/2018   MOVED BY Councillor Firth that Council directs Administration to move forward with the purchase of the three properties 5303 50th Street, Plan 8811336, Block 44, Lot 46, Area in Red to be subdivided, 5219 50 Street, Plan 266JK, Block 44, Lot 24; 23, 5215 50 Street, Plan 266JK, Block 44, Lot 25; and,

Council directs Administration to begin the process of subdivision of the church lands and consolidation of all three purchased parcels, as well as the creation of a Direct Control Land Use District to provide for an Emergency Services Building to be Development on the lands; and,

Council directs Administration to investigate building prices through a Request for Purchase (RFP) for the Emergency Services Building; and,

Council directs Administration to hold an open house with Council to answer questions from the public, and show the public what this project will look like moving forward.

August 24, 2018 - Request for Proposal (RFP) opened for the Fire Hall Tender

September 17, 2018 - Administration held a meet and greet with local residents within 100 meters of the proposed location for the Fire Hall.

September 25, 2018 - Subdivision TT 18-0-006 for proposed Fire Hall location goes to the Municipal Planning Commission

 subdivision TT 18-0-006 Fire Hall

September 27, 2018 - Request for Proposal (RFP) closes for Fire Hall Tender



Frequently Asked Questions

What is HIRF?
High Intensity Residential Fire (HIRF) refers to rules set out by the Government of Alberta as part of the province’s building and fire codes that outline how houses are to be built. Several high intensity residential fires which occurred in the past prompted these changes to the Alberta Building Code, requiring a 10-minute response time by fire departments. If that 10 minute window is not able to be met 90% of the time, builders and developers have to make changes to setbacks, design features such as exterior coverings, no windows between houses, and increased space between homes.

Why is the Town considering building a new Emergency Services Building?
In the very simplest of terms, a new Emergency Services Building built in a central location would allow the Fire Department to reach the majority of fires within a 10-minutes response time. Reaching a fire within 10 minutes would eliminate the High Intensity Residential Fire (HIRF) requirements placed on developers and builders, thereby reducing housing costs in Taber.

Why can’t the Fire Department meet the 10 minute response time with its current location?
The Taber Fire Department is made up of volunteers. When a fire call is dispatched, the volunteers have to travel from their homes to the Emergency Services Building to respond. The Emergency Services Building is located in the eastern portion of Taber. Most of Taber’s residential areas are located in the western part of town. Thus, volunteers have to travel from one end of town to the exact opposite, increasing the time it takes to respond to a fire. When responding to a call, volunteers still have to obey all traffic laws. With the number of playground zones and stop signs between a firefighter’s house and the fire Hall, it makes it very difficult for the Fire Department to make it to a fire within 10 minutes.

current location of fire hall

What does the cost of housing have to do with building a new Emergency Services Building?
HIRF requires a fire department to be on scene and flowing water in under 10 minutes for 90% of their calls. This time includes the time for a call to 911. If the Fire Department can’t make that 10-minute window, HIRF places specific requirements on builders to reduce the chance of residential fires moving from one home to another. These requirements can include sprinkler systems, no side-windows, larger setbacks between houses, etc. These specifications can cost a lot of money which is ultimately passed on to the homebuyer. Sprinkler systems alone can cost around $10,000 for a moderate sized house, which is an additional $10k that can be added to the price of the house. Another common way to address HIRF is by increasing the distance between houses, creating larger lot sizes. A typical spatial separation for a home is 1.2m (4 feet), but in order to meet HIRF standards, 2.4m (8 feet) is necessary. These setbacks create higher costs in residential developments. For every foot of development, the developer has to build infrastructure such as sidewalks, curbs, asphalt, water pipes, and sanitation pipes, all of which costs approximately $1,800 per foot. Those developments then become infrastructure the Town must maintain in perpetuity, also increasing costs. So the larger the setbacks, the higher the cost. The $1,800 cost per foot on an 8 foot setback will cost the developer and Town approximately $14,400 per home, a cost which is then passed on to the homebuyer.

Why can’t we just put sprinklers in houses to lower the HIRF requirements?
While sprinklers are one way that builders can meet HIRF requirements, they are expensive for builders to put in. At minimum, the sprinklers themselves cost $10,000 for a moderately sized home. The designs of homes are limited by the requirements of HIRF. As well, it has not been conclusively decided by insurance companies if the benefits of sprinkler systems outweigh the risks. While they may help extinguish fires, water damage is also possible due to potential leaks of the system in a home, both of which are liabilities to insurance companies.

Are sprinklers the only way to address the additional HIRF requirements?
There are three ways that builders/developers can mitigate the HIRF requirements and spatial separations:

  1. Through design and use of higher quality materials that provide prevent spread of fire including non-combustible cladding (hardieboard, brick, stucco), non-vented soffits, gypsum sheathing, limiting projections and limiting unprotected openings (vents) and glazed openings (windows); OR
  2. Sprinklering the building; OR
  3. Increasing limiting distance (double to meet same standard).

Why doesn’t Council just force houses to be built farther apart? Why are houses built so closely together?
The Town of Taber owns land that is zoned for residential use. However, land is a finite resource that needs to be managed carefully to ensure Taber has enough land to grow in the future. If Council were to force houses to be built farther apart, the lot sizes would be larger, decreasing the amount of land we have in reserve for the future, as well as increasing lot size costs. These larger lots are estimated to cost around $14,400 per lot, which is then passed on to the homebuyer. The increased amounts of infrastructure that is built with larger lots is then maintained by the Town, which is an additional cost the taxpayers pay for. The Town and Council have to strike a balance between making our land affordable and attractive to builders and homebuyers, as well as making sure that lot sizes are sustainable for the future.

Does Taber need a new Emergency Services Building?
It depends on how you look at it. The Town of Taber can continue to work with the current Emergency Services Building. Fires would still be extinguished, and builders would still build houses in Taber. However, this comes at the cost of our competitiveness with other municipalities as well as resident safety. It also comes at the cost of a more diverse tax base to lower the burden on residents and creating economic growth for Taber. A new Emergency Services Building would be an investment in the Town’s future: there would be more housing options for a wider range of people, businesses would locate to Taber because there would be a wide variety of home prices to support a stable work force, more businesses in Town would mean taxes would be more evenly distributed and not just at the expense of homeowners, and above all, the safety of residents would increase with a decrease in response times.

What does any of this have to do with trying to attract businesses to Taber?
Businesses want to base themselves in a location that provides the most access to both customers and staff. Taber is centrally located between two cities, so customer attraction is not a problem here. In Taber, the problem lies in how businesses can retain their staff. If an employee cannot afford a home near their place of work, then it is hard for the business to keep their staff for very long, increasing their overhead costs in recruitment and wages. Or if homes are more affordable in neighbouring communities, people will choose not to locate in Taber, but in the surrounding areas. Affordable houses will attract a wide range of citizens: young families, young people just starting their careers, seniors looking for work, etc. With this wide range of people able to afford to live in Taber, businesses will be more attracted to our town as a place to set up shop.

Are businesses really that worried about housing?
The Town of Taber has already lost out on the opportunity to attract one large industry: Cavendish Farms. This business specifically stated that the lack of affordable housing to support a stable work force was a major contributing factor as to why Taber was not selected as their location for operations. The Town of Taber needs to attract businesses like Cavendish Farms and other large industries to stay competitive and provide means of employment for our citizens.

Where did the Town come up with the proposed $2.5 million to build a new Emergency Services Building?
After discussions with a number of municipalities in Alberta who have gone through similar situations, the Town of Taber came up with $2.5 million as the figure for a new Emergency Services Building. Some of these municipalities included Hanna, Smoky River, and Brooks.

With the Taber Fire Department no longer responding in the MD of Taber or Barnwell, do we really get the volume of calls to justify a new Emergency Services Building?
The number of calls the Taber Fire Department responded to in Barnwell and the MD were relatively low. Most of the Department’s calls still come from within Taber itself. For comparison purposes, January to June 2016 saw 100 total calls, whereas the same period of time in 2017 has seen 154 calls.

How will the new Emergency Services Building be paid for?
The estate of William Ferguson left $2.4 million dollars to the Town of Taber. Council passed a resolution to allocate $1.5 million of the estate toward the building of a new Emergency Services Building. Other funds, such as the use of offsite levies, tax payer dollars or grants could be utilized to make up the difference.

Where would the new Emergency Services Building be built?
Council is still discussing the different possibilities, but no decision has been made.

What will happen to the old Emergency Services Building?
The Recreation Department (the portion responsible for Parks) and the Public Works Department will take over the old building if a new one is constructed. They will be able to store equipment that was previously left outside or in non-heated shelters. Administrative staff will also have access to additional work spaces with the offices already in the building.

I still have questions about this situation. Who do I contact?
For information on Council’s decisions, you can speak to any of your Councillors via their emails, which can be found at under “Your Government.” If you are looking for specific information that has not been addressed above, please contact the Town at 403-223-5500 or

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