New RCMP home almost ready

There are just nine public parking spaces at Red Deer’s new downtown RCMP station, which is due to open in March.

City of Red Deer new RCMP main entrance: more parking and public areas.

City of Red Deer new RCMP main entrance: more parking and public areas.

There are just nine public parking spaces at Red Deer’s new downtown RCMP station, which is due to open in March.

But that’s nine more than the public has access to now, said Supt. Brian Simpson.

The public parking spaces are a microcosm of the new structure.

There’s more of everything to help the more than 100 officers and more than 60 support staff make the community a safer place, the head city officer said during a tour of the building at 45th Street.

Another two dozen officers and staff operate out of the 67th Street station that opened last year.

Construction on the 86,000-square-foot, two-storey downtown building is on schedule and budget, Simpson said.

Construction cost was tagged at $22.5 million.

The overall price tag of $30 million includes designs and startup costs, including furnishings and window coverings.

The city has invested about $4 million, while the province is footing $16.5 million.

The remaining $10 million was borrowed by the city.

More than three years in the planning and construction, the station will be a major upgrade for the officers and civilians who now work in cramped quarters on 48th Avenue and 49th Street.

“We think it will be an open and welcoming building to a certain extent,” Simpson explained.

“No one likes or wants to be in a police station but the more accessible it is to the public, the better.”

The current office often sees the cramped lobby jammed with people seeking help on everything from vehicle crashes to criminal record checks.

On average, more than 200 people visit the building daily.

There are no public washrooms in the current building. The new structure has two.

Simpson said every square foot of space was used for workspace at the old building.

“I think we even utilized a broom closet at one point,” said Simpson.

His own office was chopped in half for another office a few years ago.

A highlight of the new building is the open features with as much natural lighting as possible.

There are wide hallways, numerous rooms for interviews, training purposes and storage of thousands of files.

A computer training room will negate the need to send employees to Calgary for classes.

“We ran 58 courses for staff last year with 673 people, including district officers participating.”

No longer will staff have to work out in the dark, cramped basement.

They now have a second-floor training room with windows.

The new building contains 15 cells.

The current station has four.

There’s special rooms for drug exhibits and another room for storing seized marijuana.

The exhibit lockers are securely guarded and during the move, the current exhibits will be watched by numerous officers to maintain continuity, which is required for court cases.

Even the police dog teams have their own space, near the back entrance so they can leave quickly on calls.

Much-needed space for special units such as victim services, domestic violence and Citizens on Patrol volunteers is provided.

The east wall abuts a small strip mall’s dental office.

“There’s no need to worry, we’re a 24/7 operation,” Simpson said.

About 9,500 square feet on the second floor will be shelled in only and will be completed when needed.

“People may ask why that space was created. But remember, Red Deer is still growing and it will be utilized at some point,” Simpson said.

He said the City of Red Deer was visionary in its plan to build the new station, which is near the city’s downtown and largest fire station.

Simpson said the new station will be wired for future evolving communication technology.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com