In a colourful show of red serge, Kelowna RCMP officers marched through downtown Tuesday morning, marking their move from the dilapidated, cramped, 55-year-old former detachment building on Doyle Avenue to their new, spacious, state-of-the-art headquarters at the corner of Richter Street and Clement Avenue.
While officers have been working out of the new, $48 million Kelowna Police Services building for the last two weeks, the ceremonial march, followed by an official opening ceremony, marked a turning point for the RCMP in the city, said both the mayor and the officer in charge of the Kelowna detachment.
Supt. Brent Mundle, said the new building brings operations that were previously housed in three separate locations across the city under one roof.
“This is a special moment for me,” said Mundle, who has been the head of the Kelowna RCMP for the past two years. “The city and its residents have really stepped up (in providing the new building).”
The 100,000-square-foot building, which includes working space for officers and civilian staff, updated holding cells, forensic facilities, room for records and a host of other police services, was built by the city and replaces a detachment building originally built in 1962 when the population of Kelowna was just 14,000. Today it is just over 128,000 according to the mayor.
“I think it was time for a new building,” said Basran.
He said it was clear the city needed a new police facility and its construction could not be put off.
“The infrastructure deficit is real,” he said. “If you put off building these facilities, the price only goes up.”
He noted former Kelowna Mayor Jim Stuart, who was in the audience Monday, first started talking about a new police building for the city back in 1991. But it was the last council, under former Mayor Walter Gray, that approved building the police services building.
In addition to many past and present police officers, Monday’s ceremony was attended by members of the public and by the province’s highest ranking officer, RCMP assistant-commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr, the commander of the force in B.C.
Mundle said having police services under one roof will improve communication and coordination between the units and, coupled with improvements in technology, will allow for more efficient policing in the city.
The Kelowna detachment has 192 officers who are supported by about 120 civilian and municipal employees.
The new building is expected to have about 320 people working in it.
Meanwhile, plans are in the works to redevelop the site of the former RCMP detachment building on Doyle Avenue.