Anticipation builds for new court house in Red Deer

Downtown development

The city is looking forward to its new court house and eliminating the costs of maintaining the former RCMP building that was previously identified by the province as the location to build.

Included in Thursday’s provincial budget announcement was $97-million over four years for a new Red Deer court house. The first $25-million will be granted in 2017-18 for planning.

Crown prosecutors first identified the need for expanded court house capacity in 2006.

The old RCMP building across the street from the downtown branch of Red Deer Public Library was vacated by police in 2011 when construction of its new headquarters was finished.

“Apart from lost opportunity of development on the site, on the building itself it’s been costing between $40,000 and $80,000 a year depending on annual maintenance. So over the years we’ve racked up between $300,000 and $500,000 just maintaining and keeping that site for the future purpose,” said city manager Craig Curtis on Friday.

He said if the province wants the court house built within four years, construction would need to begin early or mid-2018.

Mayor Tara Veer said last year the court house was included in the province’s capital plans but remained unfunded so the city knew it was on government’s radar. But the driving force was ultimately the Jordan decision handed down by Supreme Court of Canda’s that set stricter times lines for criminal cases.

“Our community has identified crime and public safety as their number one priority in the citizen satisfaction survey. That’s why it’s such a significant win for Red Deer,” Veer said.

The city was also pleased that provincial funding known as Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) was holding relatively steady at $23.7 million.

“MSI is a critical component for us in terms of local government’s ability to bring stability for business, residents and our community. With MSI being relatively stable over the life of the provincial plan this means that the City of Red Deer can move forward with infrastructure projects such as roadway improvements and facility development in our community.

“We do not yet know how this funding will be channelled to the city, but we do remain hopeful that it will assist us in meeting the needs of our growing community,” Veer said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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