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VIDEO: Group protests Sydney fire station location

About 30 people took part in a Monday afternoon rally against the CBRM decision to relocate its downtown Sydney fire station to land across Bentinck Street from the Highland Arts Theatre. HAT patron Trish O’Neill, right, used a megaphone to call on CBRM council to change its decision to approve a new downtown location for a Sydney fire station that must be relocated due to the pending move of the Nova Scotia Community College from near Cape Breton University to a new site on the waterfront. The protesters admonished CBRM council for approving the location without public consultation.
About 30 people took part in a Monday afternoon rally against the CBRM decision to relocate its downtown Sydney fire station to land across Bentinck Street from the Highland Arts Theatre. HAT patron Trish O’Neill, right, used a megaphone to call on CBRM council to change its decision to approve a new downtown location for a Sydney fire station that must be relocated due to the pending move of the Nova Scotia Community College from near Cape Breton University to a new site on the waterfront. The protesters admonished CBRM council for approving the location without public consultation. - David Jala

About 30 people gathered at CBRM city hall in Sydney to protest fire station relocation site

SYDNEY, N.S. —

A small but vocal group of protesters showed up at the CBRM civic centre on Monday to show its opposition to the municipality’s choice of location for a new downtown Sydney fire station.

The station is presently situated down the road from city hall on the Esplanade, but must move to allow for the construction of the new Nova Scotia Community College facility that is being relocated to the Sydney waterfront.

On Feb. 20, CBRM council gave its approval to move the station to a municipality-owned parcel of land on the south west corner of George and Pitt streets.

When questioned at that time as to why the site selection process was not subject to a public hearing CBRM chief administrative officer Marie Walsh said it was a safety-related issue and that the decision was based on expert opinion from a report the firefighters union had put forward.

“We base it on response times, something that is acceptable and that can service the downtown given the amount of infrastructure there, so for this type of building I would rely on an expert,” said Walsh.

But that answer wasn’t enough to deter Trish O’Neill from organizing a protest rally that she promoted on social media. About 30 people turned out for the late Monday afternoon public assembly. And, according to O’Neill, some 950 people had signed a petition that expressed concerns about how the new location will disrupt performances at the nearby Highland Arts Theatre (the former St. Andrews United Church).

“For short notice, this is a good turnout,” said O’Neill, who led the small crowd in chanting for “station relocation consultation.”

The protestors also had a fire engine siren noise simulator and blew whistles to make their point about potential disruptions to HAT performances.

“It’s a bad, bad decision to put the station there and it was done without any public consultation,” she said, adding that there are also concerns about traffic flow at the site and parking.

One of the people attending the rally was University of New Brunswick student Leah Morrison who is home in Sydney during reading week.

“I like going to shows at the HAT and I don’t want to see it ruined by the noise,” she said.

The new fire station location was revealed in November by Mayor Cecil Clarke after the site was identified by an established “station location” formula courtesy of the International Association of Firefighters, the parent body of the local union representing Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s career firefighters.

The province is financing the new fire station as part of the deal it undertook to relocate the NSCC campus from its present site adjacent to Cape Breton University to the Sydney waterfront.

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