Rural hub: North Queens opens new fire hall, business centre

Brittany W. Verge
Published on March 7, 2016

Reg Ritchie, warden of the municipality of Annapolis presents David Lohnes, fire chief for North Queens Fire Association, with a certificate of recognition.

©Brittany Wentzell

CALEDONIA - After 15 years of fundraising efforts, North Queens celebrated success March 6 with the grand opening of the community’s new fire hall and business hub.

The North Queens Community Centre, including the North Queens Fire Association and the North Queens Business Centre and Innovation Hub, welcomed more than 100 people to the event.

 “It’s a good news story for North Queens that will have a lasting impact on all of Queens,” said Region of Queens Mayor Christopher Clarke, who served as master of ceremonies.

 “This entrepreneurial business space is a model that has been met with success in larger centres but is not common in rural areas… yet,” said South Shore – St. Margaret’s MP Bernadette Jordan. “Perhaps North Queens will have communities aspiring to introduce hub models in their own community.”

Fire Chief David Lohnes said having the new facility has meant a lot to the association - and the broader community.

Prior to the building of the new hall, one of the department’s fire truck was always kept outside.  The association now has room to expand its fire services. Lohnes said there has been discussion about adding equipment for fighting forest fires and for rescue work. The department is also looking at replacing some of its trucks.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to do new and different things, and with the combination of the business hub, it’s a win-win for everyone,” he said.

“I think the community is really enjoying the space,” Lohnes added. “There’s not a lot of days that there’s not a function going on here.

Hub quarters

As the project moved forward over the past few years, the North Queens Board of Trade became involved and partnered up with the fire department to help create the “hub model” used in the multipurpose facility.

Along with the fire association equipment, the facility houses a board room, kitchen, common area, private offices, and a large hall for community events. The centre is also equipped as an emergency response facility.

 Funds were raised for the centre over at least 15 years. The community was tasked with raising $500,000 to get the project going. A loan was acquired from the Royal Bank of Canada and now residents have been working to pay it off – one bingo, dance or breakfast at a time. Just $125,000 remains to go.

The building was finished in the summer of 2015 and the former fire hall, built in 1973, was torn down in October.

By the numbers

Where did the money come from?*

 $750,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

 $500,000 from the community

 $375,000 from the Region of Queens Municipality

 $121,000 from the Municipality of Annapolis County

 $100,000 from the province of Nova Scotia

* Amounts are approximate.