May 14, 2013 - 1:37 PM
Over the past ten years Kelowna's RCMP officers have been working in increasingly crowded quarters. With the addition of new members the team has quickly outgrown the fifty-year-old building located downtown on Saint Paul Avenue.
A $45 million dollar project announced by the City of Kelowna is about to change that.
By 2015 the city expects to launch construction at the new RCMP headquarters site on Clement Avenue just north of downtown. By 2016 they expect to be borrowing the bulk of funds needed for the project. Kelowna's city councillors recognize the building is a top priority but say the massive cost needs to be made digestable for taxpayers.
Why such a hefty price tag for one building?
Councillor Andre Blanleil says whenever a city builds an RCMP facility they are obliged to follow a standardized model set by the federal government.
"We can't negotiate standards set by the federal government," he says.
The other cost factor setting the detachment apart from West Kelowna's new $8.4 million RCMP building is its holding cells.
Counc. Blanleil says the Kelowna detachment has always been a big facility featuring interim jail cells, which West Kelowna does not have.
"The holding cells are probably used for the whole central okanagan," he says.
Recent RCMP facilities built in Surrey, Red Deer and Prince George also cost in the neighborhood of $30 million. For the Surrey facility in the Lower Mainland that price was strictly for remodeling their existing building.
Kelowna, on the other hand, is getting a brand new facility to serve the community for at least another 75 years.
An open field on Clement Avenue at the end of Ethel Street now sits where the new building will go. The city has already purchased the site which is located on a major thoroughfare close to downtown but also linking with Highway 97.
While Kelowna's police officers are sure to be relieved from working in their cramped building, local residents are not likely to warm up to bigger tax hikes over the next few years.
Counc. Blanleil feels a long-term borrowing plan could help keep taxes down by stretching the cost over a 20-year period.
That way, "future taxpayers will pay as well, rather than just hitting the tax payers today."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013