Plans for a new home for the Shawnigan Lake RCMP station in Mill Bay were quietly shelved by the last provincial government but there is hope that now the project can go ahead.
Kerry Davis, Area A director, one of those who’s been working on the project, hopes to be able to convince new Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth that it’s well past time to move ahead and build on land already transferred from the Cowichan Valley Regional District to the RCMP for that purpose.
The land in question is a one-hectare piece of the huge Stonebridge property, which is angled between Shawnigan Mill Bay Road and where Barry Road comes out by McDonald’s and Tim Hortons by the Trans Canada Highway.
“As part of that rezoning for that whole piece of land, nearly half of it will be coming across as park, but also there was written in as part of the Official Community Plan process that a one hectare chunk that would be passed to the CVRD for some kind of community amenity.
“Before my time, there was a tripartite agreement among the CVRD, Limona Construction, and the RCMP, a deal that would see that chunk, which is the southwest corner of Shawnigan Mill Bay Road and Barry Road, where the road goes up to Frances Kelsey, there’s a little field across from there. They were planning on putting in a South Cowichan detachment that would be a brand new facility.”
That would mean big changes, and Davis is one who’d be happy to see them.
“The existing Shawnigan facility should be condemned. I think it’s the oldest RCMP building in B.C. It’s like a bomb shelter in the basement. That deal was all completed maybe a year and a half ago. So the CVRD essentially gave the piece of property for the cost of all of the administration to the RCMP so that they could build a new detachment there.”
But a problem arose.
“Since then the BC Liberal government split the job of Solicitor General off from the Attorney General and Mike Morris was the Solicitor General. Under his supervision a study was started to decide whether they wanted to amalgamate the South Cowichan detachment with the North Cowichan detachment.”
That notion caught the eye of South Cowichan politicians.
Davis and Sonia Furstenau, before she was elected MLA, went to a breakfast where Morris was speaking to learn more.
“We asked him about it and he seemed to think that [amalgamation of the two detachments] was a good idea,” Davis said.
So the plan for a new home for the Shawnigan Lake RCMP slipped off the front burner.
“It was disappointing. There were also plans, and it would make so much sense, to have the integrated road safety unit in there as well because right now they are based out of Chemainus, which is ridiculous. Their main work is down here, south of me.”
It would be a good idea to move the detachment closer to the scene of the action, Davis argues.
“And a lot of people were anticipating that. Now, there’s no provision, if the land is not used for the RCMP station, for the CVRD to get it back. It’s a rather sore point with a number of us who worked on that in good faith. We have teleconference meetings almost weekly with the federal RCMP and the federal public works,” Davis said.
South Cowichan needs its own RCMP detachment because dealing with problems on the Malahat is a great percentage of their work, just like the Malahat Fire Department.
“I was actually quite surprised that the Malahat Fire Department and the North Oyster Fire Department have about the same number of calls due to the highway and by far the highest number of calls in the whole CVRD.”
Davis said he has asked for a meeting with the new solicitor general so that he can plead their case and bring him up to speed on it.
“Hopefully Sonia and I can do that at the Union of BC Municipalities convention next week.”
There, municipal politicians get access to ministers.