The construction of the long-anticipated new police building for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment may soon finally begin.
The Municipality of North Cowichan has agreed in principle to proceed with plans for the new detachment building on its property bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road.
The facility will bring together the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, and First Nations Policing under one roof.
The project is still subject to federal approval and the signing of a new occupancy agreement with the municipality.
“The existing North Cowichan/Duncan detachment is well past the end of its life,” said Mayor Al Siebring.
“The building has had ongoing issues with rodents, leaking, flooding, and lack of adequate space. The detachment was originally scheduled to be replaced in 2012, but has faced multiple delays. Council is very pleased to see the project moving forward.”
As well as being in deteriorating condition, the current detachment building is unable to hold the number of officers, prisoners and support staff to meet the needs of a growing community.
After four years of searching the community for a suitable location for the new detachment, the municipality chose the five-acre location on Ford Road in 2014.
The new detachment will be built by North Cowichan, and the RCMP and the province will be billed back their portion of the costs, estimated to be about 47 per cent, at a later date.
Under the policing agreement with the province, Victoria pays for all the policing costs for communities under 5,000 people, and communities with more than 5,000 people pay for 90 per cent of their costs.
This means the City of Duncan portion of the bill will go to the province.
Siebring said that with an agreement in principle reached, staff are beginning to work on preliminary designs for the building to confirm estimated construction costs.
He said the RCMP will work closely with the municipality to develop the conceptual design to ensure the building will meet the needs of the police and citizens for the next 50 years.
The cost of the new building was loosely estimated five years ago to be about $23 million, but those figures are now out of date.
“Once preliminary design and estimated construction costs are confirmed, North Cowichan will seek elector assent to borrow the money to construct the building,” Siebring said.
“At this time, it is anticipated that elector assent may be sought before the end of 2019, but that timing is approximate. Along with the new Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital and the new high school, the RCMP detachment is one of three key new facilities that are desperately needed by our region.”