OUR VIEW: Surrey firehalls should continue to serve community in other ways

If you sought out a rare peek at the Northern Lights from Surrey this week, chances are you were disappointed because "light pollution" in our growing city blocked them out.

There was a time, not long ago, where one could enjoy a star-pocked sky in Surrey. Unfortunately, only the major constellations can be seen in most parts of our city today.

Like disappearing stars, the same can be said of the city’s shrinking inventory of heritage buildings.

A pair of storied Surrey firehalls – Firehall 3 in Royal Heights and Firehall 7 in Port Kells – will soon close. Hall 3 was moved to its present location at 11659 96th Ave. in 1959, relocating there from Port Mann and Whalley. Constructed in 1945, Hall 7 was built on the site of the original St. Oswald Church, which was moved elsewhere.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis explained that the closures are based on a comprehensive analysis of the city’s current needs. Canada, as a relatively young nation, has often been criticized for hastily knocking down historic buildings in favour of the newer and shinier.

That said, it’s important to note that the City of Surrey, despite rapid growth, has managed to preserve some of its pioneer history in splendid fashion. The Stewart Farm is a fine example.

Concerned about the closure of the firehalls, residents want them to be preserved for other uses and not simply ripped down.

We agree with them wholeheartedly. Firehall 10 in Surrey found a second life as the Newton Cultural Centre. North Delta also got it right when the municipality converted the firehall on 84th Avenue into a thriving arts centre where people can view paintings, learned pottery and even enjoy an intimate concert or two.

We hope the same can be done with these two Surrey firehalls that are facing closure.

The Now