Victoria Fire Department Headquarters Replacement

In 2015, the City of Victoria undertook a market sounding process to seek innovative ideas and potential interest in partnering with the City to renovate or replace the Victoria Fire Department's headquarters located at 1234 Yates Street.

Based on the results of this process, in February 2016, City Council approved a multi-stage procurement strategy and directed staff to issue a Request for Qualifications for the replacement of the Victoria Fire Department Headquarters, with the intent of providing a multi-use facility that minimizes the cost to the taxpayer.

Request for Qualifications

In April 2016, the City of Victoria issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), inviting interested parties to submit responses indicating their interest in and qualifications to replace the current Victoria Fire Department Headquarters, otherwise known as Fire Hall No. 1.

The City of Victoria is looking to partner with a developer to ideally develop a mixed use development encompassing a new Fire Department Headquarters on a suitable site that the developer either already owns or can quickly secure. The City is also willing to consider making available land that it currently owns, including the current site of Fire Hall No. 1.

The intent of the RFQ was to select a shortlist of up to three proponents to be invited to participate in the next stage of the competitive selection process - the Request for Proposal stage. The RFQ closed on May 4, 2016.

Review and Evaluation

Three submissions were received and have undergone review and evaluation. As outlined in the RFQ, the next step would be to either issue a Request for Proposals to any qualified RFQ respondent or to directly negotiate with one.

Next Step

Based on the evaluation of the submissions, at an in-camera meeting of Council on September 22, 2016, City staff were directed to negotiate with one specific proponent. The intended outcome continues to be a new headquarters/fire station as part of a multi-use development at the best value for taxpayers. Interest expressed to date continues to be confidential.

Background - Market Sounding Process

The Victoria Fire Department Headquarters nine-week market sounding closed on April 17, 2015. During the market sounding process, the City was in contact with 18 groups who expressed interest. Information about the 18 groups was confidential due to the commercial nature of the process. For the City to collect additional information to determine the feasibility and viability of the various options, it was essential that details remained in confidence on a without prejudice basis.

An in-camera report was presented to Council at the May 21, 2015 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, outlining the work to date, with recommendations on how to proceed with the next step – market consultation.

Based on Council’s direction, responses were explored with a number of these groups over a couple of months. The market sounding process was purely explorative at this stage and there was no commitment to any potential proponent or to dispose of or acquire land.

Market Sounding Stages

There are three stages involved in the market sounding process. The first stage was identification of the problem or unmet needs, which led to an innovative, informal market sounding to renovate or replace the Victoria Fire Department headquarters. 

The second stage was market engagement, which included the market sounding call for ideas, their review, and exploration/consultation to further assess the merit of each idea. The review and consultation were completed.

The third stage is the current multi-stage procurement process to advance the replacement of the Victoria Fire Department's Headquarters.

The market consultation stage needed to take place before meaningful recommendations on the procurement process could be presented to Council for consideration. The interest expressed to date has continued to be confidential, so the specific details could not be shared publicly. However, an in-camera update report was presented to Council at the September 17, 2015 Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, outlining the results of the market consultation step of the process.

As directed by Council, this step in the process involved further exploration of the ideas submitted by a number of interested parties. The next step in the process was to do further cost analysis of the options to either renovate or replace fire headquarters before a public procurement process could be initiated.

Based on the requested cost analysis, a report in open session was brought to the Governance and Priorities Committee in February 2016, outlining the estimated cost for each alternative and funding options for Council’s consideration.

About Victoria Fire Department Headquarters

The current headquarters building, built in 1958 and known as Fire Station No. 1, is home to a fuel station and 14 apparatus, as well as the Department’s administration, maintenance, emergency communications and dispatch, fire prevention, investigation and community education divisions, and the Victoria Emergency Management Agency. The current location of Fire Station No. 1, in combination with Fire Stations 2 (650 Michigan Street) and 3 (740 Bay Street), serve the Fire Department well in providing City-wide fire protection coverage.

Over the years, the Department’s operations have changed and expanded, and have outgrown the current space. Vehicle bays require alterations to allow for the size of the most recently purchased apparatus, and emergency power is insufficient. In addition, the building is not constructed to post-disaster seismic standards, potentially impacting the ability for fire trucks to respond in the event of a major earthquake.

Here's what the Victoria Fire Department headquarters looked like at its official opening on April 17, 1959.

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