Seven-year-old Kate had an extra special request for Santa this year.
“I want Santa to save our fire station,” said the little girl, one of several children who stood outside the Runnymede fire hall on Thursday evening holding signs that read, ‘I Love Firefighters,’ ‘Please Keep Our Fire Hall Open’ and ‘We Need Fire Station no. 424.’
The kids were the first to arrive at a rally organized by MacGregor Avenue residents to highlight the building’s importance to the safety, heritage and community of the local area. The fire station is facing potential closure in January because of City of Toronto budget constraints.
Indeed, the local firefighters received a particularly urgent call the night before when they were called to a house up the street on Lincoln Avenue to deliver a baby, said Damien Walsh, vice-president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing that the community is involved here,” said Walsh.
Laura Fenwick, one of the organizers of the rally and a resident of MacGregor Avenue, said having the fire station close by is a godsend.
“It’s been an unbelievable thing. There’s peace of mind knowing there’s help nearby,” she said.
Her two kids, ages two and seven, are regular visitors to the station.
“It’s one of the top stations in the city for education because there are seven schools within proximity,” said Fenwick.
The firefighters are regular visitors to area street parties in the summer, added Fenwick. If the station does close, it will be such a loss for the community.
“It’s a loss on so many levels, a loss of peace of mind. It’s a treasured part of our community. We depend on it. It’s critical to our friends and neighbours. They’re the first ones there in an emergency,” said Fenwick.
Fenwick and her neighbours distributed more than 200 flyers throughout the area about the rally that began gathering momentum before it’s official start time.