A project that was first proposed over a decade ago finally came to fruition last week with the official grand opening of a new ambulance depot in Rimbey.
“It’s been a great journey. In 1998 the municipality took over ambulances as a municipal service and we’ve certainly had some key personnel through this last ten years-plus,” said Mayor Dale Barr shortly after cutting the ribbon to officially open the facility. “Working together, we’ve been able to grow a strong and top quality fleet of ambulances and our personnel has been trained and brought up to the highest standard for the service that we offer here and this building is just the icing on the cake.”
Jointly funded by Ponoka County, the Town of Ponoka and the Town of Rimbey through shared municipal sponsorship funding, the project came in both on schedule and under its $550,000 budget by $50,000, with the vast majority of work done by local contractors.
Other sources of funding came from long-term financial planning and savings as well as support from the public, including the late Mae Arline Van Alstine, who left a significant endowment to the project and who will be recognized with a permanent plaque inside the new building.
And while employees of the ambulance service now find themselves in a new home, the project’s completion also means the fire department will have more room as the two services had occupied the same building.
“They shared the fire hall building for a number of years, which was adequate surroundings, but this puts us at the top end of ambulance services for rural Alberta and is certainly a proud point for Rimbey,” Barr said. “Our fire department has also had growth in the last number years and certainly with the numbers of volunteers on their staff, as well as the equipment needed to deal with the different types of fires out there, it’s very timely.
“From the town’s perspective it’s a double bonus. We’re able to help the fire department out and give them some shop space for equipment and other needs, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Construction of the new ambulance depot was precipitated by provincial funding changes, Barr explained. It’s another feather in the hat of a community that, in addition to several other major projects, finds itself the envy of many others.
“It was conceived about a year and a half ago. With the change in ambulance service from municipally funded to provincially funded, council made a decision to be at the forefront of facilities to separate operations so it was clearly defined within the province on what needed to be funded,” Barr said.
“It’s a good day. Rimbey keeps growing and keeps bringing on new strengths,” he added. “We’ve got an excellent hospital with acute care, we’ve got a top-notch fire hall and personnel, the lagoon’s expansion has just been completed, next year we’ll be working on the water reservoir and Rimbey’s infrastructure and critical needs will be in a very, very strong position for the next 20 to 50 years.”