Kamloops city council has authorized $4.75 million in funding to be put toward designing an expansion of the RCMP’s Battle Street detachment.
In Tuesday’s council meeting, Darren Crundwell, the city’s capital projects manager, said the funds will pay for the project’s detailed design work after previously approved preliminary designs are completed this summer.
“The proposed expansion would add approximately 40,000 square feet and accommodate an additional 15 years of growth,” Crundwell said.
“Other significant improvements within the facility would include accessibility, sustainability, fire protection, improving the backup power in the building.”
According to a report prepared for council, the current detachment was constructed in 1990 for about 85 occupants, designed to meet the city’s needs for about 10 years.
Nearly three decades later, the building is 115 per cent over capacity, housing 190 workers — police officers and municipal support staff.
The report said policing practices have changed, including the need to separate evidence from people who don’t require access, which is challenging in the current building due to its configuration and lack of space.
“The RCMP Battle Street Detachment is beyond its functional capacity and does not accommodate the existing building occupant load or anticipated future increases as the city's needs and policing practices continue to evolve,” the report said.
Staff said the total cost of the project is estimated to be between $50 million and $80 million, on par with similar upgrades to policing facilities completed by other municipalities in the province.
Costs for the first phase of the project, preliminary design work, was approved as part of the 2021 supplemental budget. According to the city, this report is due in July.
Crundwell said expediting the approval of funding for the next step, the detailed design, will save the city $7 million by avoiding escalating prices and supply chain issues. The project would also avoid a prolonged delay due to the fall municipal election.
“Should council support this recommendation today, we would have the design complete in early 2023 and be ready to start working on the project with the RCMP,” Crundwell said.
The $4.75 million would be paid through short-term debt.
Coun. Mike O’Reilly said he would be supporting the recommendation, and asked if the new design would include a plan to alleviate parking pressures currently experienced in the neighbourhood.
Crundwell said the city doesn't intend to add any additional parking spaces as part of the project, but staff are looking at other options.
“I think we will have some solutions as we work through the design,” he said.
O’Reilly said council previously supported adding new RCMP officers and municipal staff to the downtown detachment, making it all the more important to “keep up with the times” and approve the request.
“This isn't something that staff just came up with and said, ‘Hey, let's build the building.’ We need it. This has been a long time coming,” O’Reilly said.
“I believe it was under the stewardship of [former Mayor Peter] Milobar and council at the time to develop the North Shore Community Policing Office, which really removed the pressure or at least gave us some time — better part of a decade — to get us to where we are now.”
Council voted unanimously to approve the funding.