North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)

New RCMP detachment now scheduled to be completed by October, 2023

Project was to be finished by this fall, but faced delays

Construction of the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment building is now scheduled to be completed by October, 2023, instead of this fall as originally planned.

Project manager Mark Frame said the delay is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the $49-million project, which is being constructed on a five-acre property owned by North Cowichan bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road, is now progressing smoothly.

At North Cowichan’s council meeting on Aug. 17, council awarded tenders for what is considered to be the last of the large packages needed for the building.

RELATED STORY: GROUND BROKEN ON NEW RCMP DETACHMENT FOR NORTH COWICHAN/DUNCAN

Council awarded a $609,000 contract to Graphic Office Interiors Ltd. for the building’s furniture, and an $83,000 contract to Pacific Sign Group Inc. for signage.

Mayor Al Siebring said North Cowichan and Fort St. John, which is also constructing a new RCMP building at a slightly higher cost of approximately $51.4 million, have been working together over the last several years in an effort to save money on the two projects through cost synergies.

“But [the project in Fort St. John] is becoming even more expensive because they didn’t include furniture and fixtures in their contract like we did,” he said.

“This is really good news. This is our last major contract to be awarded and [staff confirmed] we’re on budget and our contingency remains sufficient.”

The municipality currently has $4.48 million in contingency funds for the project.

But Coun. Kate Marsh said she has developed a lot of empathy with people who are concerned about the cost of the new RCMP building.

RELATED STORY: CONSTRUCTION OF NEW RCMP DETACHMENT TO BEGIN IN EARLY 2021

“A lot of people were around a number of years ago when the price tag of the building was quite a bit lower and, while I know it’s too late to change anything, I just feel that [$49 million] is so much money for a facility where most of the folks who work there are out driving cars, walking and cycling,” she said.

“I understand that it’s too late to go back, but it’s very challenging. It’s an awful lot of money.”

The Municipality of North Cowichan held an alternative approval process in 2020 to determine if its taxpayers wanted to borrow the money to construct the new RCMP detachment, and not enough voters submitted Elector Response Forms opposing the project to prevent it from proceeding.

North Cowichan is borrowing the entire cost of the new detachment, and the RCMP will pay back its 60 per cent share of the project through a lease.

In 2012, when the project was first planned, it was estimated to cost approximately $23 million, but, like many large capital projects, the construction of the new detachment has faced numerous delays since then and building costs have risen considerably in that time.

The scale of the project has also increased significantly since it was first envisioned a decade ago, and the plan now is for it to bring together the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, Indigenous Policing, and municipal and provincial officers under one roof.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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