The RCMP have once again set up shop in north Red Deer.
Years after a small police station was closed at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre, the RCMP opened their doors of a much larger satellite station Saturday next to the Firehall 2 at 5839 67th St.
About 150 people gathered at the twin stations to check out the new police station and the expanded firehall, part of a $7.9 million project that came in on time and $400,000 under budget.
The RCMP showed off some of their equipment including a mobile command centre, one of three in the province. Red Deer Emergency Services also had their own version on display as well as a Bronto aerial truck and a pumper.
Ellen Geddes, secretary of the Highland Green community association for the past 18 years, said she used to have committee meetings with police at the old community station and she’s glad to see them back.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing more collaboration with the groups that we have here in our neighbourhood.”
Highland Green has always been one of the city’s more densely populated neighbourhoods and police statistics show that crime rates tend to be higher in areas where density is high.
“Having a police presence here can only benefit us.”
In opening ceremonies, fire chief Jack MacDonald said the joint police facility has been in the works since 2003.
MacDonald and then-RCMP Supt. Jim Steele travelled to Leduc to see how their experiment with a firehall/police station had worked out. They came away impressed enough to pursue a similar project in Red Deer.
As part of the project, the existing firehall was modernized and renovated and a 2,300-square-foot maintenance and apparatus bay was added.
MacDonald welcomed the opportunity to work side by side with the RCMP.
“It’s our honour and our privilege to share our house with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And I can’t emphasize that enough,” he said.
RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson said this is not the first time the city’s two emergency services have shared a building. In 1909, firemen and police worked out of the same building downtown.
The final decision to build a satellite station came out of a 2006 crime prevention and police strategy review. As the city grows, other satellite stations may be built.
Simpson said the new 16,700-square-foot station was built with an eye to the future. A room has been set aside for community meetings and enough space was created to allow for future growth. The station will be staffed by 25 Mounties and support staff.
“It’s a great concept. It opens more doors to the community,” he said.