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New Kelowna cop shop gets the green light.

Kelowna city council has approved a plan to spend $48 million to build a new police detachment in the city.

On Monday, council gave the plan the green light, noting it will replace a detachment building on Doyle Avenue downtown that is too small for the 175 officers and additional civilian staff who work there now.

“The current facility is unacceptable,” said Coun. Colin Basran, who, along with the rest of council, was given an extensive tour of the existing detachment last week to see just how inadequate it is.

City hall says the existing 52-year-old building no longer provides sufficient space for effective policing in the community, so a new Kelowna police services building for the RCMP is proposed for the corner of Clement Avenue and Richter Street.

“Maintaining a safe community is a priority for citizens,” said John Vos, infrastructure division director for the City of Kelowna.

“The city’s 2012 citizens survey ranked concerns about personal safety relatively low, while protective services were citizens’ top priority for community investment. That tells us people generally feel safe in Kelowna and they want to continue investing in protective services to give the RCMP the support system and efficiencies they need to keep our neighbourhoods, business areas and downtown safe.”

The project will be built using a design-build method of construction and will require the city to borrow $42.3 million of the total cost.

It will seek approval from voters using the controversial alternate approval process, which puts the onus on taxpayers to oppose the plan by signing petition forms in sufficient numbers over a short time period if they do not want the city to proceed. It is similar to negative option billing, which is illegal in B.C. when used by businesses but not local government.

In addition to the borrowed money, the city will also use $2 million from its reserve fund set up for replacement of the existing RCMP detachment building, $1.2 million from its pay-as-you-go capital program, $275,000 from other municipalities that will house prisoners in its 29 new jail cells, and $2.1 million from its parking and general reserves.

The project will provide a 90,000-square-foot building capable of housing 220 officers plus 115 civilian staff and 17 commissionaires.

Vos said the project will be more than just a new building. It will also include necessary roadway and intersection improvements at Clement and Richter, public and secure facility parking, landscaping and required off-site utility servicing.

The contract for the design builder will be $36 million and is expected to be awarded in December 2014. The building is expected to be completed by late 2017. That contract cost will include design and engineering, building construction, parking, landscaping, utility upgrades, street upgrades, sidewalk and irrigation.

There will be additional direct costs to the city (outside of the contract work) that could be as much as $12 million, for a total project cost of $48 million. Those direct costs include planning, project management, development cost charges, building permit, furniture and computer networks, financing costs, design-build stipend for unsuccessful bidders and a contingency reserve.

Coun. Robert Hobson noted the 30-year amortization of the loan will mean future generations will help pay for a building they will use. He said this is a good time to borrow from the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C., as rates are low.

Under the Municipal Policing Agreement, the city is required to provide adequate accommodations for the RCMP to perform its work, within a set of nationally applied policing standards.

“It is important to remember that this facility is more complex than office space—it is part prison, part high-tech lab, part library and part armoury or high-security storage facility,” said Vos.

“It is operational 24/7 and required to be built to a post-disaster standard, which means after the occurrence of a seismic event, the building needs to not only remain standing, but needs to remain fully operational.”

Coun. Luke Stack noted the price of the new RCMP building will be equivalent to another popular civic building, the H2O Aquatic Centre in the Mission.

He said the public had no problem getting behind that project and urged them to do the same with this building.

Building the new RCMP detachment will add about $41 to the average city homeowner's residential tax bill by the time it is completed in 2017.

 

 

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