WELLAND –Welland City Council can seize an opportunity to preserve its historic Central Fire Station and stimulate Welland’s downtown economy.
In a news release issued today, Tuesday, June 14, the Heritage Welland committee is urging council to convert the 1920 fire hall to a fire museum and learning centre as part of local Canada 150th celebrations. (Editor’s note: Because of its importance, the news release is being used in its entirety.)
Welland Heritage sees a way to do it at no cost to the city.
The city could provide the first two floors to the Welland Merrittsville Fire Brigade Historical Society. It would operate a seasonal (May to October) museum with volunteers and fill it with a collection of classic fire equipment dating back to 1876. The museum and the brigade’s events (open houses, shows, parades, fire safety demonstrations) will draw local, regional and international visitors ranging from veteran firefighters to fascinated youngsters.
Heritage Welland says the station’s large third floor could be leased for office space at current commercial rates to cover the building’s operating (heat, light, water, maintenance) costs.
To upgrade the now unused structure for accessibility and other requirements, heritage advisory committee says federal, provincial, and foundation grants are available. It also suggests monetary and in-kind corporate donations as well as crowd source fundraising and local fundraising.
The city is already promoting Central Fire Station as a tourist attraction in its brochures. By upgrading and making it operational, the fire hall would become a stronger addition to current downtown attractions: Welland Farmers Market, the lighted Main Street Bridge, Welland Recreational Canal, Welland Museum, Courthouse, Welland Civic Centre and Merritt Island.
“Welland is currently experiencing a resurgence in civic pride. The Bridge project with lighting was a catalyst, the City Hall TV system complements this direction and this Fire Hall project could further cement Welland as a destination location for business, partnership opportunities and economic growth,” says Heritage Welland.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to save a building with national architectural and heritage significance.”
For more information and to show your support, please attend the presentation by Heritage Welland to Welland city council at its meeting next Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 7 p.m.