Red Deer in costly waiting game with province

Red Deerians are on the hook for $100,000 every year the former RCMP building sits empty.

Red Deerians are on the hook for $100,000 every year the former RCMP building sits empty.

The ex-RCMP site on 49th Street is earmarked for a new provincial courthouse to replace the crowded 1980s-built one just a block away.

The previous Progressive Conservative government indicated a new courthouse in Red Deer is a priority and the city’s choice for a site might be suitable.

But nothing has been set in stone and the change in government has forced the City of Red Deer to step up its advocacy efforts.

The city outlined some of the pressing issues in Red Deer, including the need for a new courthouse, in a letter penned to premier-elect Rachel Notley.

The city pays for basic maintenance and heating costs to keep the former police station up and running.

The RCMP moved out of the building in April 2011.

The city could demolish the building but it would have to pay roughly $800,000, including to fill in the basement.

“We obviously do not want to do that,” said city manager Craig Curtis. “Because if they were building on the site, they would not fill in the basement. They would use it for their basement. We are caught one way or another.”

Curtis said the city could retrofit the building to provide storage or accommodations.

“Obviously we need to discuss this with the new minister when appointed,” said Curtis. “We had several discussions with the former minister and we had anticipated that we would hear something but everything is in limbo until we get a new minister.”

Other local issues outlined in the letter include the need to continue the joint planning for the closure of the north Michener Centre site, funding for the 2019 Canada Winter Games and concerns about proposed Hwy 2 improvements through Red Deer.

Notley and her new cabinet will be sworn in on Sunday. A new provincial budget is expected to be tabled in the fall.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com