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Colwood councillor questions if West Shore RCMP should still get ‘nicety’ of free parking

Concerns raised as council voted Monday to help fund new $82M RCMP building
The City of Colwood City Hall building is seen March 30, 2022. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Despite an intense question period, Colwood council voted unanimously Monday (Jan. 23) in favour of funding the next stage of the process to build a new West Shore RCMP detachment.

Colwood will provide $291,720 in funding to advance the project to the validation stage and appoint Mayor Doug Kobayashi and chief administrative officer Robert Earl to a Joint Police Facilities Steering Committee to develop the project.

During Monday’s meeting, Earl said the committee would guide the forthcoming request for proposals process for the various aspects of the building. The committee includes the mayors and CAOs of the Town of View Royal and the Cities of Langford and Colwood.

View Royal has already voted in favour of providing its share of the funding ($186,720) during its Jan. 17 meeting. Langford is yet to vote on whether it will provide the remainder of the funds to go ahead with the validation stage.

It initially seemed during Monday’s meeting the funding would not get approved as Couns. Kim Jordison and Cynthia Day expressed concerns about how the process was brought forward – real estate company Colliers was contracted by the three communities’ former mayors and CAO to put together the proposal – while Coun. David Grove reiterated Jordison and Day’s concerns about knocking down the existing West Shore RCMP detachment on Atkins Avenue in Langford and rebuilding at the same location.

“I don’t personally see any pending doom on this project if we are just to pause and (receive) more information,” said Jordison.

Speaking during the meeting, Todd Preston, superintendent for West Shore RCMP, said the key factor for a detachment was access to highways, with the current location allowing officers to connect quickly to the Trans Canada Highway, important when considering the area the detachment has to cover a large area stretching from Metchosin to the Esquimalt-Songhees First Nation. He said Colliers looked for a suitably-sized property in the area but found no better options.

READ MORE: Colwood council delays vote to move forward on RCMP building expansion

The existing detachment building – actually two buildings connected together, with one having been built in the 1960s and the other in the 1990s as an addition – is currently “bursting at the seams,” according to Preston, and the lack of space means the need for certain focused personnel, including a mental health outreach team and child pornography experts, may be unable to be met.

“You’re arguably putting public safety at risk because we’re not going to be able to provide services,” said Preston. “All you really need to do is look at Burnaby, Surrey, Richmond, Langley and Coquitlam, all those detachments were headed in that direction. We’re no longer a small police force, we’re becoming a big city police force.”

Another sticking point was parking. Jordison questioned whether taxpayers should be paying for free parking for police officers, saying it was a “nicety” and pointing to doctors and nurses who don’t have parking paid for. Preston responded that though planning was in its early stages, he said not providing parking could hurt recruitment and lead to officers moving elsewhere.

The total cost for the validation stage is set at $1.2 million, during which a project team will be hired to produce a validation report in mid-2023 – which will include plans on how the build will meet the $82 million budget, as well as design needs, contingency plans and the timeline.

That $82 million will be split $49.6 million for Langford, $12.8 million for View Royal and $20.1 million for Colwood (based on population and property assessment data), according to a statement from the City of Colwood.

ALSO READ: View Royal approves funding for $82M West Shore RCMP building replacement

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About the Author: Goldstream News Gazette Staff

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