Rebuilding from the Ground Up
Since October 2016, work has been ongoing to build a new bus garage for the Hants North area. The new garage will replace the previous structure that burned down in March 2016. The fire, which resulted in the evacuations of Kennetcook District Elementary, and Hants North Rural High School, started when a truck ignited inside the former bus garage. There were no injuries from the fire, but the total loss of the garage has caused a ripple effect throughout bussing operations.
Losing this bus garage has meant that busses from Hants North have had to be redirected to the next closest garage, in Truro, when in need of repairs. Around the same time, the Truro garage also started servicing busses from East Hants, resulting in an additional 40 busses being serviced in Truro. These additional busses have caused time delays in repairs, and means that if a bus breaks down with students on board, it takes far longer to send a replacement. Mechanics have been spending nights and weekends at the Truro garage to get all of the work done; they have given up almost every Saturday of their working year.
“Busses are travelling approximately 100 kilometres to and from Hants North for minor fixes,” said Sandy Lynds, Coordinator of Pupil Transportation. This was one of the largest issues that Lynds identified. He said that busses would travel this distance to get a simple light bulb change that would have ultimately cost a dollar. “It just wasn’t feasible,” Lynds added. A quick solution to the problem of distance has been to turn a truck into a mobile tool box, but this is only a solution for minor repairs. A new bus garage is definitely needed.
Following the fire in March, plans to build the new garage were quickly underway. Several different locations for the new garage were considered, but the choice was made to keep the garage in the Hants North area. Ed Ingarfield, Property Services Manager, said that while the new building is still on the same property, it is not being rebuilt on the same spot. The primary reason to move the garage is to ensure that it is farther away from Kennetcook District Elementary, and Hants North Rural High, in case of future emergency. Moving the garage also made the school sports fields more accessible. Ingarfield added, “Moving the garage makes it work out for everyone.”
With a new building comes new updates. The new bus garage will have a wash room, where employees can go to shower or clean themselves up after work, a lunch room, and a large work area for employees. An even bigger change is a heating system and a wash bay inside the garage so that the busses can be washed indoors. “It should be a lot more comfortable for the mechanics to work in,” Ingarfield said.
The project had a late start after some design issues and weather, but Ingarfield said things are moving forward. The estimated finish date for the new bus garage is February 10, 2017. “Things are moving along smoothly, it’s been a little tricky with the school, but everything’s working well with this. We’re on budget and we should come in right on time.”
Lynds is excited about the project being completed as well, not only for CCRSB, but for the community too. “It shows we’re still invested in the community. I think it’s a great thing.”