Police getting extra space

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City to buy MIG building on Bellerose Drive for $4.4 million

It won’t be a new home, but it looks like the St. Albert RCMP will finally have the space they need to move some staff to free up room at their Bellerose Drive headquarters. And it won’t even be that far away.

Council voted unanimously Monday night to authorize administration to finalize the purchase for $4.425 million of the MIG building at 50 Bellerose Drive. The building is home to the St. Albert Food Bank and Community Village and will remain so.

Chris Jardine, general manager of community and protective services, said this building would require only a maximum of $1.2 million for renovations for police purposes.

“On a go-forward basis we have to build an operating budget to maintain the building, pay utilities and such,” Jardine said.

It has been 18 months now that council has been actively looking for additional space for the RCMP, which has been complaining of a space crunch at its headquarters. At times council was prepared to allow the police to set up an additional shop at their old location at the Hemingway Centre, but couldn’t overcome the financial obstacle of an estimated $2 million in potential renovations.

It was Jardine who, in October, came to council with a recommendation that it stop looking at the Hemingway Centre as a possible alternative and that the city actively seek a commercial building it could purchase that could accommodate the RCMP’s space needs for the short-term and potentially into the future as well.

According to an agenda report, the MIG building offers 24,000 square feet on 2.09 acres of land, large enough to accommodate future expansion that could suit the RCMP’s needs for potentially as long as 25 to 30 years.

From a policing perspective, the building is mere blocks from headquarters and is located in a central area with immediate access to important roads. It also offers opportunities for collaboration with the food bank, which council saw as a potential bonus.

“I’m personally very excited,” said Coun. Cathy Heron. “It has a lot of synergies and the location is key. For the RCMP to still be central is good and this solution is much longer than 10 years.”

Council authorized Jardine in October 2011 to negotiate the purchase price which came out to $4.425 million, slightly higher than the $4.4 million at which the building was assessed. The city will take possession of the building Aug. 1 and begin renovating immediately so the building is ready occupancy by late 2012.

How the city will pay for the building was a sore spot for Mayor Nolan Crouse. While administration recommended a number of options, it favoured withdrawing $2.805 million from its capital asset revolving reserve fund and $2.82 million from the approved 2012 capital budget. The capital asset revolving reserve fund is used to purchase land for city purposes. Jardine said the city might have future land needs soon, which is why he didn’t want to pay the total cost of the building simply from the reserve.

But Crouse wasn’t enamoured of the suggestion.

“We have tremendous demands here in the community,” Crouse said. “I’ll vote for it but I won’t forget about it just because we might buy land out there. We have so many opportunities in this community and we’re just letting that money sit there. I’ll remember this. Let’s go out and buy some land or lower taxes or do something creative.”

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