Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday July 6 2015
1:50 PM EDT
2014-05-20 at 17:28

Pondering expansion

Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY – The city police department is exploring the possibility of expanding its station, but that has at least one councillor sounding financial alarm bells.

The Thunder Bay Police Service is in the preliminary stage of working with the city to determine how to upgrade the Balmoral Street station, with early estimates pegging the cost at close to $3.5 million.

Annual audits of the facility have identified issues with the storage of evidence, creating the need to expand to retain property and evidence.

Every year the police’s collection of evidence and property grows.

Executive officer Chris Adams says a lot has changed since the headquarters first opened more than 25 years ago, creating the need for changes.

“We have a couple of sections of this building that are quite old in their layout and functionality,” Adams said.

“When this building was opened … it had a certain function or flow. Policing has changed quite a bit in that time. Some units have contracted and others have expanded so we have to look at how the officers and other civilian staff are working and make it more efficient.”

Documents obtained by Dougall Media detailing the proposal reveal plans to add a single storey expansion to police headquarters.

It would increase the building’s storage capacity by 50 per cent and allow the gym and weight room to be relocated to the expanded area, freeing up the current exercise space for office use.

However, Coun. Rebecca Johnson questions the availability of funding for such a significant capital upgrade, no matter how valid the project might be.

“The taxpayers in this community are telling me very loudly and clearly ‘no more.’ At this point in time I can’t support any further additions, no matter what they are,” Johnson said.

“Where we are in the current fiscal situation, for somebody to come along and say we want to increase, regardless of the rationale, I do not think it’s appropriate. I don’t think the taxpayers of this community can absorb anything further. We’re building two new fire stations, we’re looking at an events centre, we have a bit of a reserve and where is that all going to go?”

There would either have to be spending cuts or an increase in taxes to be able to fund any project of that magnitude, she added.

Last month council was told the city budget was facing shortfalls of $5.7 million for the first quarter of the year, after finishing 2013 with a negative variance of $8.2 million. In April council approved dipping into the stabilization reserve fund and across the board spending cuts to try to reign in the deficit.

Those budget issues have to be sorted out before new, larger projects can be considered, she said.

Johnson said she first heard about the expansion plans when contacted by media on Tuesday.

Adams said the police service has been working with the facilities, fleet and transit department in the city during the early stages

According to the proposal document, a consulting firm will be awarded the project during the second week of June. That will be followed by site investigation and preliminary design development with final design study development to occur in August.

The study is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 29, 2014.


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Robert Bob says:
come on people, the Police can open many small policing stations in any of the hundreds of empty buildings scattered all around Thunder Bay. Gee what a novel concept neighborhood policing centers. No need for expansion of the headquaters, WTF, TAX money just doesn't grow on trees. City hall is a joke so are the elected officals. Just ask and they give, give give, Tax and Spend or is it Spend and Tax
5/22/2014 3:24:51 PM
Jasper says:
Maybe newswatch can verify, but I thought all their gym equipment was purchased by their association through police union dues. If that is in fact true it doesn't get much cheaper than nothing for their gym.
5/21/2014 7:29:07 PM
S Duncan says:
even if the equipment isn't funded by the taxpayers, the facility and operation of it are.

it flat out needs to go. before you know it the firemen will want gyms at every station too.
5/22/2014 6:32:46 PM
octane says:
Of course they need a gym.
All the cops are in fantastic shape.
Give them gym passes to that other waste of money call the Complex.
Let them work out there.
Spend Spend Spend.
Thats all this city council wants to do.
5/21/2014 11:34:33 AM
chbaker says:
o more money to Thunder Bay Police.. They don't even do a good job with what they have.
Fire them all and get OPP in town, so we can have some crime reduction for our millions.
5/21/2014 11:15:40 AM
drdolittle says:
How much money can one police department spend? Heck you would think they were firefighters. Put more police on the ground walking around in unsafe areas, give them a Complex membership and put a seacan on the grounds. Seems a little more reasonable.
5/21/2014 9:22:01 AM
ProfessorGlo says:
Sell off the gym equipment and supply employees with access to the Canada Games Complex. Done and done.
5/21/2014 8:13:47 AM
ring of fire dude says:
How does 3.5 million fly under the budget radar when there's a City Councilor who sits on the Police board ? Someone (TBNewswatch)needs to ask Joe V. why this expansion was not brought up for budget debate and why his "fellow Councilors" were kept on a "need to know" basis .
5/21/2014 8:03:40 AM
orig junkyarddog says:
It's another well designed strategist plan too get more tax dollars in to an already inflated high wage budget, When you have admittedly spend 80% plus on wages ? Why not try and balance your $40 million dollar budget, And not wait till an election comes up to demand another 3.5 million plus .Wake up Chief smell a cup of reality.I was at council when you demanded that you get your wage and benefits OR! you might not have the re-souses to respond properly or in a timely manner
Doug Powell Candidate for Mckellar Ward.
5/21/2014 8:03:39 AM
fairlane says:
Could you guys please proof read your work? Even my browser has spell check. Complete sentences in your stories would be nice.

It would be a different story if the odd error cropped up now and then, but we see it quite frequently. And the excuse is....?
5/20/2014 10:51:41 PM
brandon says:
Time and time again, Johnson is the only councillor who blinks when groups come with their hands out.
Thank you for doing so! If only the others would as well!

Our cost for municipal policing is beyond ridiculous at this point, with poor results. Perhaps its time for a completely new model? This one is broken, and very expensive.

Strangest of all: Johnston only just heard about this now, and only after being contacted by the media. (thanks media!) meanwhile, its already pretty much a done deal with the contract being awarded the 2nd week of June! If the media hadn't let her know, when was the police services board/whoever else is responsible planning on letting citizens know they were planning on spending another $3.5+ million !?? This just smells bad.
5/20/2014 9:49:27 PM
jimmyboy says:
ask yourself this question....why is this an issue now....after the police department and city budget were approved for 2014....the timing of this so called need is a farce in my opinion....either that or someone is fast asleep over there at the police station.!!!
5/20/2014 7:48:57 PM
passlake says:
Could the gym just be eliminated completely? Give officers a free (or discounted) membership at the complex..
5/20/2014 7:23:25 PM
Tbaylifer 1 says:
Come on Becky. "Annual audits of the facility have identified issues with the storage of evidence, creating the need to expand to retain property and evidence." This isn't new. Where were you when this was discussed. Use the money from the sale of Municipal Golf course. Your past priority list is a good example of why you need to be voted out next election. Try to remember, needs before wants as has been stated numerous times.
5/20/2014 7:13:40 PM
signman says:
The taxpayers are telling Councillor Rebecca Johnson no more, but she states they are looking at a new Event Centre.

I don't think she understands what no more is!

No more means: NO NEW EVENT CENTRE!
5/20/2014 6:54:38 PM
cazam says:
hasnt the population of thunder bay dropped in the past 25-years? shouldn't the police service have become more proficient during that time through technology? do they really need a gym at the station? 3.5M$ for more evidence storage as a primary reason seems excessive to me.
5/20/2014 6:36:11 PM
RelaxinginMurillo says:
Easy solution to push the expansion back a few years maybe ? Get rid of the exercise room and get a discount group rate to one of the local exercise places.
5/20/2014 6:20:26 PM
eventscentre says:
Ok so you want cops who are out of shape like they are in the USA? No, I would rather they keep the exercise room thank you
5/20/2014 10:24:39 PM
Glyder says:
And why can't they go to a public gym and pay for their own memberships like EVERYONE else? They can easily afford it.
5/23/2014 1:59:27 PM
tbaynorth says:
Officers are also more vulnerable while working out. Do you think someone that is pissed at an officer he sees all tired out at a local gym is going to pass up an opportunity to harass them or worse yet, assault them? Leave the gym for officers to let off steam after a stressful day of work.
5/21/2014 10:32:07 AM
yeah they get jumped at restauraunts ,pubs and bars across town all the time, out with family when their backs are not against a wall, or after fun runs, or other exercise they do to keep in shape etc etc when " they are more vulnerable".
what a rube.
5/21/2014 6:20:49 PM
Watchmaker says:
Add it to the Event Centre.
5/20/2014 6:10:55 PM
jimmyboy says:
and the lucky contractor is...????
5/20/2014 5:43:28 PM
cachinnate says:
Whomever the winning bidder is after a fair and legal tendering process.
5/21/2014 10:19:00 AM
unknowncronik says:
hahahhahhahhaha.....good one cachinnate!
5/21/2014 11:18:15 AM
Eastender says:
I'm sure there are plenty of available storage spaces that can be had for rent or to purchase, for a lot less than 3.5 million dollars. How fancy does a storage space have to be. This new construction fetish that administration seems to be suffering from is just pandering to the local contractors.
If I need to store my car for the winter I certainly wouldn't build an addition onto my house. Work with what you have, and quit whining for the Taj Mahal of police stations. Lots of gyms in the city to get exercise.
5/24/2014 10:11:55 AM
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