Kathryn McGarry has a vested interest in the quality of facilities that fire rangers in the North are using.
That’s because the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry actually has a son who is a Fire Ranger based in South Porcupine.
So for McGarry, she understands the importance of the new forest fire management centre which officially opened today in North Bay located up on Voodoo crescent north of Jack Garland Airport.
“It can’t be understated how much the men and women that go out and put themselves at risk as the rest of the general public is running away from danger, it means a big difference for them to have a facility that they can debrief, that they can rest up before or after going out because fighting fires out in the wild is extremely difficult,” the Minister explained about the $9.5 million project.
“And those of us who are family members, me included, I’m a mother of a fire ranger, I’m very proud of the work he does and I’m always much more grateful for a facility like this that can keep our crews safe as well.”
The new facility consolidates fire crews and support staff from four locations into one building on the airport grounds, allowing for faster deployment of fire crews to the surrounding communities and forests.
It will also be the new home for seven fire ranger crews and practical space for two water bombers, two bird dog planes and two helicopters.
The opening of the new fire management headquarters will create and maintain a total of 39 jobs in the North Bay area.
Many of the North Bay based Forest Fire Management jobs have now moved up to the new location from the MNRF building on Trout Lake, which McGarry says will eventually be closed.
Mayor Al McDonald has been lobbying the Minister to hand over the property to the city in hopes of creating a larger warterfont park on Trout Lake, which would expand what is currently Olmsted Beach.
“Part of our beach that our citizens get to use is actually on the MNRF property so what we would like to do is complete that community park by securing that land, obviously we would take the building down but it would be a great legacy asset for the community to have a really nice community park right on Trout Lake,” said McDonald.
The Minister says she toured the Trout Lake location today which still holds a number of MNRF offices that are still operating.
“I know that there’s discussions underway right now as to what the future is, if there’s going to be movement to purchase another building for the rest of the MNRF district office so those discussion are underway, it’s too early to know where they are going to land at the moment,” added McGarry who added the new office and jobs will stay in North Bay.