Hundreds of footsteps are crunched into the snow of a popular inner-city park along 30 Avenue SW, surrounded by giant spruce trees, a few poplar, and a handful of smaller but mature trees.
To the south, along 14 Street SW, is the decades-old Fire Station No. 5 — a testament to the proud history of the firefighting brigade in the city’s southwest, protecting the citizens of South Calgary, Mount Royal and the surrounding area.
With growing demand for services and with the increased size of equipment, it’s time for No. 5 to expand.
Charles Gunn and his wife, Remy, who live across from the park and fire station, are worried a pending subdivision application that calls for a near tripling of the fire station’s footprint will swallow the oft-used green space.
“Of the neighbours I talked to, most people are in agreement that it’s important to take a serious look at how the park is used before paving over additional inner-city green space,” said Gunn.
Calgary Fire Department Deputy Chief Greg Wilkes said the current station No. 5 was built for the capacity and risk of a 1950s community, not for today’s current needs.
Wilkes also said the station planning is still in its infancy and extensive community consultation will occur — though the current location offers prime access to routes that allow for the best response times.
“If we don’t consult the community, shame on us,” said Wilkes, noting the department hasn’t looked at alternative sites.
Resident Lori Beattie said another site along 14 Street SW five blocks north has derelict buildings and could be a prime spot for expansion.
She doesn’t want to lose the park and hopes it can be preserved.
“If they go ahead, we can’t get it back. It’s gone,” she said.