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'Desperately needed' new $47M RCMP detachment opens in North Cowichan

“The old building was well past its best-before date,” says North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas.

The RCMP officially opened the doors on its new $47-million North Cowichan/Duncan detachment on Friday.

North Cowichan Mayor Rob Douglas said the new state-of-the-art police station was “desperately needed.”

“The old building was well past its best-before date,” he said.

More than a hundred people were at the new facility, at 6430 Ford Rd., for Friday’s grand opening, Douglas said. Attendees included elected politicians from all three levels of government and the chief of the Cowichan Tribes.

Constructed on municipally owned land in North Cowichan, the new building will host regular RCMP staff, B.C. Highway Patrol members, victim services, and a new unit specializing in forensic identification. The detachment serves North Cowichan, Duncan and the Cowichan Valley.

The budget for the construction was for $49.03 million, with North Cowichan paying for 40 per cent of the costs and RCMP the balance.

But Douglas said the preliminary cost estimates peg expenditures at only $47.4 million. “We’re looking at likely savings for our taxpayers, which is a good thing, especially in this environment.”

Green building design elements, including a sunshade system and solar panels, mean the building is net-zero ready for energy use, he said.

The station, initially expected to open in October 2022, was delayed due to supply chain issues that also held up many other large projects across Vancouver Island, Douglas said.

The municipality funded the project by borrowing through an alternative approval process.

Construction of the 4,640-square-metre building involved Nanaimo-based general contractor Milestone Equipment Contracting Inc., Nanaimo-based steel fabricator Niik Steel, Coquitlam-based timber contractor Seagate Mass Timber Inc., and Delta-based Unitech Construction Management Ltd.

Architects were Vancouver-based KMBR Architects Planners Inc. and Fast + Epp, a Vancouver-based engineering firm, provided structural engineering services.

Acting Insp. Ken Beard, the detachment commander, said the new building is “very high-tech and far more efficient than its predecessor,” which was built in 1980. “The facility incorporates modern technology in security, interview equipment, prisoner monitoring and DNA handling.”

The old building on Canada Avenue was designed for a force of 30, less than half of the size of the current North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP force, and its jail cells did not meet provincial and federal standards.

Douglas said no decision has been made regarding the old building. “North Cowichan council is considering potential next steps, but hasn’t made a formal decision yet.”

North Cowichan said the new building is expected to meet policing needs for the next 50 years.

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