The Rural Municipality of Hanover continues to make plans for a new fire hall in New Bothwell.

Chief Administrative Officer Luc Lahaie says construction of a new hall is still years away but they are getting everything lined up in advance. Lahaie says they are currently in the process of acquiring land on the north end of the community. This land is west of Provincial Road 216 and south of Accurate HD.

Lahaie says the land being acquired is currently going through the subdivision process. Once that happens, the land will be used for a light industrial park. Lahaie explains the smaller parcels fronting PR 216 will accommodate light commercial and retail. And then behind that will be the future site of the New Bothwell Fire Hall, or Station 3 as it is referred to in Hanover.

According to Lahaie, New Bothwell's existing fire hall was never built for that purpose. It was built in the 1950s and served as Bothwell Motors before eventually being sold to the RM of Hanover and turned into a fire hall.

"This building is not big enough to serve us in the future," explains Lahaie. "It can't house our fire trucks properly. All our apparatuses are getting bigger and we are always getting more equipment."

Lahaie says ever since they opened Station 4 in Blumenort in 2019, they have considered constructing a similar-sized building in New Bothwell. According to Hanover Fire Chief Paul Wiebe, the cost of the Blumenort hall was $2.89 million for the entire project, including land, building, equipment and training. The building itself cost about $1.3 million.

As mentioned, the start of construction is still several years away. Lahaie explains that is because the municipality would like to minimize the impact of taxes on ratepayers. He says if they wait five or six years, some at-large debentures will be paid off and this project will have less of a financial impact.

"Right now we're planning ahead and land is always hard to obtain," he says. "So if we can at least earmark land for the station then we're ahead of the game."

Once the new hall is built, Lahaie says the existing hall might be taken over by the Local Urban District of New Bothwell to store its equipment. The community is still waiting to receive its LUD status. He notes they might also choose to sell it to another business instead.

Meanwhile, Lahaie says the plan to build a new hall in New Bothwell instead of opening a fire hall in Mitchell is not a decision made lightly. He notes at last year's strategic planning session, Hanover's administration and council were told to analyze whether there is a need for a hall in Mitchell. Lahaie says Mitchell continues to be their most populated community in Hanover and as the community grows there will be more of a demand for fire protection.

"And perhaps the services coming from Kleefeld, New Bothwell and Blumenort may be a little bit too much for those stations to serve," he says. "So we will probably be studying whether there is a need for a station or maybe a satellite station in Mitchell."

Having said that, he says the challenge is that Mitchell is a bedroom community, which means if all of the potential volunteer firefighters are working in other communities, there may not be enough bodies in the community during the day to respond to a call.