To the editor:
The majority of the Police Services Board has resigned. The chief of police is retiring. So why is city council still insisting on spending $2.4 million dollars on a new police “campus” when most of its proponents have abandoned ship?
If this $60 million dollar project was so essential to the community in its current configuration, don’t you think the people pushing the project would hang around to see it through to the end?
The resignations and the chief’s retirement make it clear that this $60 million behemoth is a toss-off, just something thrown up against the wall to see if it will stick.
There was pressure to do something about an aging Balmoral Street station that was bulging with new hires.
But the Police Services Board and senior police managers were distracted by their internal political divisions and dysfunctional relationships between just about everyone.
So, instead of hiring experts in policing and police buildings and going through a public consultation involving multiple building alternatives, the Police Services Board simply hired a local architect.
The public record suggests the Police Services Board and the chief drew up a wish-list of the facilities to be included in a new building. The architect did some square metre calculations and concluded the Balmoral site wasn’t big enough.
And that was about it.
The slapdash mess was handed off to city council to deal with. Before the resignations, council ordered Gerry Broere, the manager of construction services, to work with police administration to begin detailed design work. Council set aside $2.4 million to complete the work.
I’ve been told the police department is going out to tender to hire a project manager to oversee the design phase.
What council should do is suspend the entire exercise until we have a new police chief in place and the Police Services Board is re-constituted.
With any luck, we’ll get responsible people who go through a proper planning exercise that looks at multiple options. Those could include sharing facilities with other policing services in the region and seeking federal and provincial funding for specialized, but not core, police facilities such as a training centre, firing range and 911 call centre.
We need new policing facilities. But we don’t need a $60 million monolith kilometres from our downtown cores. There are cheaper and better options. We just need responsible people to conduct a proper planning exercise.