Red Deer’s new $207 million justice centre will provide a dramatic addition to the city’s downtown.
The project was first announced by the NDP government, which set aside $97 million over four years to get the project rolling. That funding did not cover the entire cost of the project, said an Alberta Justice spokesperson Tuesday.
A nine-storey, 312,000-square-foot building will be constructed just south of the downtown branch of the Red Deer Public Library.
Conceptual renderings of the design from Red Deer’s Group2 Architecture Interior Design depict a multi-tiered structure with sweeping curves that will front on 48th Avenue. The building’s design allows it to curve in behind the historic Parsons House, a local landmark the city was determined to preserve.
The building replaces the existing provincial courthouse nearby, which was built in the 1980s when Red Deer’s population was half what it is now. A lack of courtroom space has been a persistent problem in the city in recent years.
The pandemic has also shown the technological limitations of the existing courthouse. Only a handful of courtrooms are fully equipped with remote video links, which has involved some courtroom juggling for virtual court proceedings. State-of-the-art technology will be incorporated into the new building.
Designed for 16 courtrooms, 12 will be available when the centre is completed in spring 2023. Others will be roughed in and will be finished when needed.
At a September groundbreaking, Infrastructure Prasad Panda said the project is expected to create 750 construction-related jobs and is part of the province’s $10 billion economic recovery plan.
Contractor Clark Builders has completed shoring up the site and site servicing and is working on the building’s foundations.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu said at the groundbreaking that the courthouse investment was a direct response to feedback received from a rural crime tour then-justice minister Doug Schweitzer did last year.
“The upgrades to the Red Deer Justice Centre will help ensure the justice system is working effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of those in Red Deer and the surrounding communities, while making sure the judiciary, staff and the public are safe,” said Madu.