A RCMP home for years to come (video)

Visitors were unanimous in their belief that the opening of the new RCMP downtown detachment cements the idea that the RCMP will continue to provide police services for the city for the next several years.

RCMP commissioner William Elliott

RCMP commissioner William Elliott

Visitors were unanimous in their belief that the opening of the new RCMP downtown detachment cements the idea that the RCMP will continue to provide police services for the city for the next several years.

There has been sporadic talk for the last decade that perhaps another type of municipal police force would serve the city better.

The main speaker at the opening ceremony Saturday said the RCMP is proud to be a partner with the city in providing policing services.

“I must say the RCMP is very, very proud to be the police in the City of Red Deer,” RCMP Commissioner William Elliott told more than 250 guests at the morning ceremony.

“This building is a symbol of our joint commitment to work together to provide safety and security for the citizens of Red Deer,” the commissioner added.

“It’s a tremendous building,” Elliott said.

Construction on the 86,000-square-foot, two-storey downtown building was on budget, officials said earlier.

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 footed $16.5 million.

The remaining $10 million was borrowed by the city.

The building won’t be fully operational for a couple of weeks which made it ideal for the public to tour the 4602 51st Ave., structure in the afternoon.

Wendy Volstad said she was “blown away by how roomy the building appears inside.”

“It’s seems really bright and there’s so much work space. I’ve seen the old building from the outside mostly but also from just inside the front doors and it looked cramped.”

Volstad said for her money there’s no better police force for the city than the Mounties.

“I hope they never leave ‘cause they do a good job here,” she said following a tour.

Marv Dinsmore from Red Deer County said he was most impressed by the artwork which outlines the police history in Alberta.

“It’s nice to see some of it from the outside but inside it comes to life a lot more.

“They may have spent a lot of money on it (building) but it’s needed to keep the community protected,” Dinsmore said.

More than three years in the planning and construction, the station is a major upgrade for the 160 officers and civilians who now work in cramped quarters on 48th Avenue and 49th Street.

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.

Elliott said he’s visited more than 100 detachments in his three-year job as commissioner.

He said often before he arrives at a detachment the Mounties have tidied their building.

“I must say Brian (city detachment commander Supt. Simpson) this is the neatest I’ve ever seen,”

He said he’s never seen a more functional police building.

“The building is also a very important symbol of the RCMP” and its history in Alberta.

Elliott, a long-time bureaucrat who became the first civilian RCMP leader in 2007, announced recently he is stepping down from his post shortly.

Simpson thanked city officials including city council for its investment.

“It sets the tone, it sets the standard” for our policing services, Simpson said.

He also said the building’s design is hopefully a warm and welcoming experience for most people.

Simpson said most civilians entering the building would rather not be there but hopefully the design makes it a little less foreboding.

Alberta Deputy RCMP Commissioner Dale McGowan, head of K Division in Edmonton, said some of his fondest memories as a young Mountie was life around a detachment.

“Detachment life lies at the heart of what the RCMP is all about,” McGowan said.

“Most RCMP members start their career there learning lessons for the foundation of their service.”

Alberta Solicitor General of Public Safety Frank Oberle, Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling and members of Red Deer city council were also on hand.