Flanked by Staff Sgt. Chris Swain on the left and Const. Jen Morgan on the right, Insp. Chris Bear, MP Alistair MacGregor, CVRD Vice Chair Ian Morrison, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples and Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour officially break ground for the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment on Friday, Aug. 7. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Flanked by Staff Sgt. Chris Swain on the left and Const. Jen Morgan on the right, Insp. Chris Bear, MP Alistair MacGregor, CVRD Vice Chair Ian Morrison, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples and Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour officially break ground for the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment on Friday, Aug. 7. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Ground broken on new RCMP detachment for North Cowichan/Duncan

Facility has been a long time coming

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP headquarters on Friday, Aug. 7 brought back memories for Insp. Chris Bear.

“When I first started here, the detachment commander said, ‘Don’t worry about the building. We’re getting a new building,’” Bear recalled.

That was 15 years and four supervisors ago. Bear is the fifth detachment commander in that time, and the first to see tangible work being done on that new building, which is about to be constructed on former farmland at the corner of Drinkwater and Ford roads.

Originally built in the 1980s for 40 employees, the current detachment building on Canada Avenue now houses 85 employees and has not aged well. That’s not to mention that policing has changed in the last four decades, and is likely going to change even more in coming years.

“We are building a detachment for the future,” Bear pointed out. “It’s not built for today, but built for tomorrow.”

The Municipality of North Cowichan is borrowing the entire $48-million cost of the new detachment, requiring a four per cent tax increase, and the RCMP will pay back its 60 per cent share through a lease. The building is nearly identical to one being constructed in Fort St. John at a cost of $51.4 million.

Construction on the new building, which will house Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, Indigenous Policing, and municipal and provincial officers, is expected to begin in early 2021 and completed in the fall of 2022.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring noted that the new facility is a project he has been working on since he was first elected to municipal council. He recalled his first tour of the Canada Avenue building, where desks were lined up in any open areas, and telephone cables snaked across the walkways. After the tour, he took then-detachment commander Insp. Kevin Hewco and asked if it had all been for show. Hewco assured him that no, that’s what it looks like all the time, and at least once a week someone tripped on the cables and unplugged the fax machines — vital pieces of technology in those days.

Siebring also acknowledged that there were community concerns about how much of the preparations for the new building were done behind closed doors, but explained that much of that was necessary. He recalled how the municipality once expressed interest in purchasing land at another site, but when the seller learned the government was looking to buy, the price went up significantly. One thing he appreciated about the Van Jaarsfeld family, who sold the site to North Cowichan, was that there was no haggling or escalation, which meant no borrowing or loans were required to buy the land.

“I’m really, really excited for the members,” Siebring said. “I know the conditions they were working in. Not only was it crowded, but there were health issues. I’m really looking forward to October 2022.”

Taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony along with Bear and Siebring were Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, Cowichan Valley Regional District Vice Chair Ian Morrison, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples, and Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour.

The word for the RCMP in Hul’qumi’num is “Qiquq’ul’s,” which Seymour said in his brief address means “law keepers” or “law givers.”

“It’s obvious we’re all growing: the city, North Cowichan, the region, Cowichan Tribes,” Seymour said. “We see the need for expansion of the RCMP. I’m glad to be here and take part in the celebration of moving forward on this expansion.”

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Duncan’s City Hall will get a seismic assessment this year. (File photo)
Duncan City Hall to get seismic assessment

City hopes grants will help pay for seismic upgrades

Vandals damaged a picnic table at Spectacle Lake Park with a chainsaw earlier this month. (Linda Mills photo)
Editorial: Vandals make victims of us all

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Vees' Jack Barnes picked up his second goal of the season in the team's 5-0 win over Merritt on Saturday. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Cowichan Capitals in deadline dilemma with 20-year-old players

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

The latest homeless count in the Valley found 129 in a 24-hour period. (File photo)
Latest homeless count reveals 129 in the Cowichan Valley

But local officials believe number is higher

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo-raised singer Allison Crowe with director Zack Snyder on the set of ‘Man of Steel’ in 2011. Crowe performs a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in the upcoming director’s cut of ‘Justice League.’ (Photo courtesy Clay Enos)
Island-raised musician records song for upcoming ‘Justice League’ film

Allison Crowe’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah closes out the movie

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

A battery electric-hybrid ferry, pictured here, is expected to make its way to Vancouver Island in late 2021, says B.C. Ferries. (Submitted photo)
Hybrid ferry for Gabriola-Nanaimo route launches in shipyard in Europe

Two hybrid vessels to replace MV Quinsam by early 2022, says B.C. Ferries

The Pacheedaht First Nation is planning a $1-million expansion to its campground in Port Renfrew. (Pixabay photo)
Expanded camping announced for Pacheedaht Campground

$1-million project is part of the B.C. Rural Economic Recovery program

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

The Port of Nanaimo has signed a 50-year-agreement with DP World around short-sea shipping operations at Duke Point Terminal. (News Bulletin file photo)
Lease ‘important first step’ in $105-million Nanaimo port expansion project

Port of Nanaimo and DP World sign 50-year shipping operations agreement for Duke Point

A BC Ferries worker out of Swartz Bay has tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Swartz Bay ferry worker confirmed to have COVID-19

Employees in direct contact with worker now isolating

Most Read