Demolition of the old downtown police station is underway to make room for the $97-million Red Deer Justice Centre.
Work has started on dismantling the former RCMP building at 4811 49th St. It’s expected to be levelled by late spring, allowing ground breaking for the new centre to begin this fall.
The new justice complex will replace the existing courthouse. It will have 12 courtrooms, with the capacity to increase it to up to 16 in the future.
The project was approved after many years of advocacy by city council, local lawyers and justice officials who maintained Red Deer had outgrown the existing courthouse.
“It’s great for the city. We would love to see it proceed,” said acting city manager Tara Lodewyk, who noted the large-scale project will take at least three years to complete.
The city is still waiting to see a development permit application for the centre. As it will be built in commercial zoning, it does not need to go before the municipal planning commission or council, but plans must still must be presented to the planning department.
Lodewyk was told the province is still working on the justice centre’s design. According to Alberta Infrastructure, the prime consultant is Red Deer-based Group 2 Architecture.
Whether the new justice centre is linked to the existing historic Parsons House next door, is still unknown. No official statement has been released by the province on the fate of the house, a municipal historic resource.
While the 1903 home is fenced within the demolition site, Red Deer city council has told the province it favours the preservation of the heritage brick building, which was Red Deer’s first medical clinic.
Lodewyk said city administrators are working with Alberta Infrastructure to determine the future of the Parsons house — which was also a former law office and former native friendship centre.
She said there’s no indication the province intends to tear it down.
Made of brick from the defunct Red Deer brickyards, the house is considered one of the best examples of Edwardian classical architecture in Red Deer.